Mathew Tudor is a figurative painter based in London.
My main subject is the crucifixion and the portrait using acrylic and pastel. I recent years I have focused increasingly on portraits of friends and strangers. In 2014 I cofounded The Tunnel a group of artists and performers based in London who exhibit widely in the London area.
Hey Mathew! Tell us a few words about yourself. When did you begin doing art and how did you get started?
Mathew: I have been drawing since I was a child but I became interested in painting when I was seventeen: I saw a reproduction of Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman (1937) and I knew instantly that I wanted to be a painter. Three years later I went to college to study art and that was the beginning of my career.
Your main subjects are crucifixion and the portrait. Where does the inspiration come from, is there a story behind it?
Mathew: Whilst at Halesowen college in 1998 I discovered a book about Matthias Grunewalt, within which was a reproduction of his Isenheim Altarpiece (1512 – 1516). This was the most gruesome and realistic depiction of the crucifixion I had ever seen. I began researching other Renaissance painters and as a result, my fascination with these images began to escalate. I have variously attempted over the years to reinvent this image in human terms rather than the spiritual in a similar way to Francis Bacon.
You are using acrylic and pastel? What are some advantages of using these acrylics and pastels?
Mathew: I use Acrylic because I like the immediacy of the material: the fast drying time enables me to realize my paintings very quickly.
Could you walk us through your process? How much planning do you do before you jump into creating an artwork? If you do, what are you trying to solve at each stage of it?
Mathew: I start with a photograph and produce a series of paintings based on that image. The process of working is similar to reductionism which was pioneered by Frank Auerbach(amongst others), whereby I reduced the form to a simple series of structures and then repeatedly work over the top. The process can be stopped at any stage, so in a sense, a painting is never truly complete; it can be added to at a later stage- sometimes months or even years later. But the end result can be considered a distillation of time and a recording of the emotional self. I also use a restrictive pallet similar to Georgio Morandi consisting of six or seven colours which gives a greater coherence to the body of work.
Your art is very unique. What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Mathew: My work is very repetitive as I work in series so sometimes it is necessary to destroy older pieces to disrupt that sequence. Destruction is not necessarily always literal; it can mean reworking an older image or painting over it completely.
What are you working on right now?
Mathew: A series of portraits based on Robert Macbryde.
What was the most recent piece you’ve enjoyed working on the most, and why?
Mathew: My current series of portraits of Robert Macbryde as I have started using Oxide Yellow for the first time.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Who are a few artists/people that really inspire you right now, and why?
Mathew: Francis Bacon for his method of trapping and image with colour and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio for the mood of his paintings.
Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?
Mathew: Art acts as a repository of knowledge between generations.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
Mathew: I am involved in various curatorial projects such as The Tunnel and the Apes Of God which hold regular events/exhibitions throughout the year in London and is the main outlet for my work.