One to Watch

Matthew David Smith transforms pieces of the city into unique works of art

Matthew David Smith is an emerging artist living and working in London and Oxford. He received a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and a Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design from Oxford Brookes University. Matthew is interested in the urban environment, the man-made, and the divide between the new and the old within the city itself. He creates mixed-media works, adding and removing layers of materials to parallel the constant flux of the urban environment. By juxtaposing found objects with more traditional mediums like oil and acrylic, he transforms the everyday into unique works with new meanings.

Matthew has exhibited his works throughout the UK, most recently in a solo show at the Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Oxford. He has also participated in group shows held by galleries including The Hatch (Oxford), Art Fetch (Ireland), and Lacey Contemporary (London), where he was a finalist for the Lacey Contemporary arts prize.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

My work is grounded in the man-made and the constant urban development and growth of our surroundings. Everything is constantly in flux; the world can be so fast-paced and is changing every second. I act like a magpie, picking bits that catch my eye and abstracting them. It could be the design on the sole of a trainer or the surface of a billboard. Everyone is constantly leaving their mark on this planet in one way or another, I’m taking those marks to make my own.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?  

If you are completely true to your work and yourself then you can do no more.

Prefer to work with music or in silence? 

Always music. Hip-hop and rap seem to stir up the best results and it is yet another source of contemporary culture that I use. I suppose it is the flow, energy, and aggression of hip-hop and rap that gets me in the zone. I quite often think of lyrics as abstract formations that can be played with and rearranged to create unexpected imagery.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be? 

Give me anything by Piet Mondrian and I would be happy for life. He embraced modern life and the city grid and gave a lyrical rhythm to his work that is intoxicating. His work feels object-like, in the same way I want mine to be. Mondrian played with notions of art and life as one, as the same thing. His studio was like an all-encapsulating painting.

Who are your favorite writers?

The texts I read vary greatly from critical writings to popular culture magazines. I often look in magazines to take forms and color combinations from the advertisements.  The book Art in Theory: An Anthology of Changing Ideas is the main book I’m reading at the moment and is brilliant to dip in and out of. It was edited by Charles Harrison and Paul Wood and gives you so many theoretical views from numerous perspectives.