Western Australian abstract artist, Matt Hayes joins the Cathedral Square precinct for the inaugural State Makers festival. We took five with Matt and spoke to him about his work, his inspiration and his creative process.

How long have you been painting for?
15 years

Tell us about your work; what makes it unique?
I focus attention on the materials and various techniques of pouring, dripping, scraping, layering and blending to the end of manifesting chromatic alchemical transformations.  It is an experimental yet also controlled and methodological approach to manipulating enamel, ink, spray and varnish.  The result is explosive intense fields of colour emerging out of, or submerged into darkness.

At university and in technical college I practiced figurative painting and realism with oils and acrylics. At some point I reached out to test and discover new mediums and application techniques.  I became engrossed with experimentation and exploring painting process, and this in itself became the new focus of my practice.  

Can you tell us a bit about the creative process?
My process of making is quite performative as the works themselves are typically large (up to 4m) and require a lot of physicality. Pouring, scraping, lifting and manipulating large paint laden canvases against the clock before the paint sets.  From the observers point of view this occurs as a kind of manic ritualistic dance.  For me though, it’s a space of calm and focus where I am fulfilling a predetermined plan.  Majority of time in creating the works is spent in preparation and in waiting.  I test as many as 30 smaller canvases with a variety of techniques and paint blends as well as setting them on various angles to create a slow flow. Watching how the various mediums react to one another and waiting to see how they finally come to rest.  Each session requires 24-48 hours drying time before the paint comes to finally rest and dry, I then measure out and place mixed paint pots around the canvas to have on hand for when the work is created.  I repeat the process for a final canvas as many as 10 times so a final piece can take several weeks to complete.

What inspires you?
I find painters that explore materiality and process such as Gerhard Richter and Dale Frank to make the most incredibly beautiful, powerful and confronting images.  Works unlike any seen before.  There is something about this type of work I find captivating.  And the process of making such works for me personally is completely immersive bringing a sense of pure expression.

What have you enjoyed about being part of the Cathedral Square neighbourhood for the month of April?
Cathedral Square is my favourite part of Perth.  The mix of meticulously restored heritage buildings and modern contemporary architecture by one of Australia’s best Architects Kerry Hill (COMO The Treasury and the new City of Perth Library) is visually stunning.  FJM Property’s vision in creating this precinct elevates the standard in Perth to world class and the sense of community is lovely. The people who work within the precinct are warm and welcoming making the experience of being artist in residence a joy.    

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