Interview with Matt Neuman
1. Describe your influences- what sources, artists, do you look to for inspiration?
My work falls into the category of geometric abstraction. A few artists I'm into right now... Sarah Morris, Ara Peterson, Julian Stanzcak. Recently I'm doing a lot of work with pattern. Pattern for me makes an immediate reference to the infinite; a concept that I find very humbling and powerful. Whenever when I'm confronted with the suggestion of a never ending pattern I'm forced to come to terms with my own scale in the universe.
2. Describe your typical week- in the studio, at home, other activities?
I'm in my studio 5 days a week and there are never enough hours. Outside of my dad life my regular studio hours are about 10am-5:30pm book ended by 45 minutes in the car where I stay worldly with radio news. Work time goes by particularly fast lately. I'm preparing for two solo shows right now- February in D.C and March in Miami. I always have many artworks in progress at any given time. Whichever works call to me with a sense of urgency get my attention for the day. This could mean printmaking or painting. I like to pass ideas back and forth between the two media. Not a lot of instant gratification lately...I'm just chipping away some big project items that are pretty slow moving. Outside of the studio I try to keep up with a few sports habits. I play soccer, tennis, cycle, run, ski...
3. Can you share your process of getting your work out in the world? (types/exhibit planning process)?
An emerging artist needs to be very proactive in showing their work. Even before I went to art school I was submitting images to open calls for group shows in galleries and museums. I did manage to be part of many group shows this way but I never felt like those shows were adding up to greater opportunities. When I finished my MFA in 2011 I set out to build relationships with galleries. Gallery owners are pretty numb to artists pitching their work. They get it constantly from all sides and you're likely to get brushed aside regardless of the quality of your work. It's all about inception...It has to be the gallery's idea to show your work. I got a lot of early exposure through art fairs. I formed a gallery business called Asterisk Projects under which I would rent booths at art fairs and curate shows using my own work and artworks by friends. This gave me the opportunity to spend a week at a time rubbing shoulders with other art gallery's and begin networking and building relationships. After doing a few fairs Asterisk took off as a source of both sales and networking For nearly 5 years I would do 2-3 art fairs each year in different cities. Eventually I became represented by enough galleries to allow me work full time in my studio.
4. Where is your studio, and what does it look like? How do you find materials and resources to make work?
My studio is the Bronx. It's a basement space that is as much wood shop as it is painting studio. I've been in this space for 8 years now so it's pretty well 'lived' in as far as studios go. I like big work tables. Oh, and big drawers. Oh my god...big drawers are the best. I built a set of 4 drawers into one of my work areas last year... 72' wide by 100" deep...changed my life.
In the past I used a lot of found material in my studio. It was economical and it brought a lot of character to surfaces i was making at the time. Now I just buy the stuff i need. Lots of sheet goods, paper, ink, paint etc.
5. What opportunities for professional development have been most helpful to you?
My MFA experience was very formative for me as an artist. It taught me how to squeeze ideas and allow for basic ideas to grow into complex expressions. One of the most important ideas I left with was the concept that, intellectually, the 'shape' of painting is life an inverted triangle. This description works better with hand gestures, but with the inverted triangle analogy you can see how a small idea at the base can grow and widen into a rich concept through iteration. In the opposite way, its more difficult and often less successful to start with a grand idea and try to force it into a painting- the act of which would be shaped more like a proper triangle.