In a world where natural frontiers seem to have all been conquered, 2009 saw those with their eyes on the skies get excited about a new discovery.
Asperatus both the name of a newly proposed cloud formation discovered last year (the first addition to the International Cloud Atlas in over fifty years) and also the name of Matt Huynh’s first exhibition in 3 years.
It means to “agitate” or “roughen” in Latin, though Huynh suggests we “take that as you will.”
The illustrator selected the location of the exhibition with care. Finding a home for his latest series of 14 starkly de-saturated / black and white prints, which he describes as baring the dramatic fragility of “singular symbols and notes,” was fraught with difficulty. But the Skeleton Gallery at the Australian Museum will be the befitting destination of the June 1 opening, chosen finally because it offered what other venues couldn’t, with Huynh looking for “an environment that could turn the volume up on the artwork, that could bleed the lines off the page and into the air between each easel and engulf the entire atmosphere surrounding the audience”.
He’s a busy man this week but he did take some time out to catch up with Design Federation.
What have you been up to lately, Matt?
I have been working on Asperatus!
My one night only solo exhibition of my most recent illustration series. Every day, it’s lots of energy. Apart from what you’d expect organising a show would involve, I’ve taken it as an opportunity to dip across film, writing, photography, painting, and redoing my entire website and folio. Lots to do.
What is the inspiration behind your latest show?
In terms of process, I wanted to deviate from the conscious and deliberate scheming I’m accustomed to when creating very purposeful commercial illustration, so the work was created with a focus upon subconscious and instinctual approaches to composition. I paid more attention to intuition, dreams, physical ticks and chance to leave marks and symbols on the page rather than trying to knock an image into my predetermined idea of a valid visual.
In terms of content and themes, they were also developed instinctively. Thinking back on the results, I know there’s an undercurrent about the chaos and unpredictability of modern times – how we are living increasingly abstracted lives and facing challenges that demand lateral thinking and leaps in thought. Generations prior were concerned with the jobs down the road; today people’s homes are lost by stockbrokers shifting pixels across the world. Generations prior responded to the pollution of their local industry; today, we think about how the consumption in our shopping trolleys affects the hole up in the sky.
Problems disconnected from results – it’s pixels instead of paper, under the influence of things outside our reach and perception, it’s a cost that’s incurred far down the line or across the world, it’s human contact separated behind screens, it’s conflict without borders and video game warfare. Of course, this manifests culturally and in the way we lead our lives personally.
“Before the June 1st exhibition, I filmed a series of interviews with a diverse group of people responding to the artwork, including a doctor, martial artist, festival director, copywriter, screen printer and illustrator. It was the first time they, or anybody, had been exposed to the artwork, and what resulted was an insight into how they make sense of the illustrations… and themselves”
This first episodes features Tu Hao Tran – one of Sydney’s doctors and a martial arts instructor.
What is the word on the streets about the show – are people feeling it?
The response I’ve personally have had has been amazing. It’s been especially encouraging considering this is my first solo show in three years; I was not sure how much of a battle I would be facing to reintroduce myself.
Part of the reason I wanted to do this special event was to make a gesture to those willing to come along with whichever direction I decide to take my work. So often you’re in a position where you have to beg and sell their work, wave their arms for attention, so this dynamic has been refreshingly quite the contrary – where fortunately (and with much appreciation!) we will experience this single night and my new body of work based on a trust or faith in my work. I won’t let you down!
What’s the plan for after the show?
I will clean up, go home, and start again! I would like to do more writing, possibly work in other media, but right now I’m itching for comics.
You mentioned at theclub after the Friends of the Federation party that you were working on a book project – what’s up with that? Any progress? Publishing / release dates?
No! I have kept it quite close to the chest. I have since finished my taster, a chapter and a half to get a feel for the book but put it aside to develop Asperatus.
Will you be entering your work in the Design Federation inspiration book at the end of the year?
Where can people find you and who do you want to hear from (strippers, gang leaders and rich art collectors?)
I want all the love in the world, I want to hear from everybody!