By Javier Melian, ChromArt co-founder
British born, Matt Crump is a multi disciplinary artist living and working from his home studio in vibrant Brixton, London. Matt studied a fashion degree at Kingston University and earned a Ba Hons in fine art. Entwined, these two disciplines inherently influence his outlook and methodology. Matt is a quarter French, a quarter Moroccan and the other half British; an eclectic mix reflected in his various works of art.
Whilst trained in painting and photography, a new lease of creative life has seen him specialise in digital collaging using long forgotten images
His works from various projects are assimilated from antiquarian books and printed material scoured from dusty corners around the U.K and worldwide, with original source material dating as far back as the late 17th Century. Through this “up-cycling” using scores of detailed intricate images these pieces take on an immersive and detailed style with an aire of the phrenological. This technique sees the past reinvigorated back into hypnotic life with talismanic values.
How did you started as an artist?
My artistic habits were formed early on, as my father was in the stationary business, so I was practically swaddled in reems of paper on a bed of pencils and rubbers. Uncomfortable as that may
sound the abundance of these materials forged my skill set throughout my youth. As I progressed through education with pencil cases splitting at their seams, various awesome art teachers helped
instil a sense of worth I didn't find in classes full of joyless jargon. After all this I was somehow convinced/tricked into studying a fashion design at university. When I got to the final year
it suddenly dawned on me I didn't know my Velcro from my elbow and that I couldn't sew, so I scarpered down a year or two but gained a first class honours in fine art which I should have done all
along. However, combined, these two definitely help inform decisions on what I should create.
5 reasons why everyone should love Islamic art
The undeniable persistent complexity. The mesmerising kaleidoscope of geometry and symmetry. The impressive longevity of its lifespan from origins to now across several centuries. The notable
high level of achievement and skill in all mediums that forged techniques admired and inherited by other cultures across the globe. The scale of the beauty captured within miniature paintings to
gargantuan architectural wonders.
What are your artistic influences?
Most of my family live in Morocco and my renewed interest in arabesque styles may lie in the fact that in his later years my Grandpere, Haj Mohammed Melhaoui, built a spectacular mosque in Oujda,
Morocco. In effect the pieces from the “AD INFINITUM” series may well be a commemoration of his efforts and at the least, some sort of ode to my heritage.
The “COMMERCIUM CRANIORUM” project may have had its seeds sewn a decade earlier during a visit to the Parisian catacombs in that Commercium Craniorum bears reference to the 19th century anthropological hobby of collecting, studying and trading of skulls so prevalent at the time these catacombs were made.
What are your favourite techniques and which ones would you try in the future?
A non artistic influence is the intense yearning I have to create when I’m not. Sad but true. The strive to learn is constant, though I’m aware that whilst I pluck at incessant ideas that
warrant mastering varying new mediums this nurtures a debilitating effect over other techniques I’m trying to master.
I particularly enjoy painting but I prefer the speed at which I can formulate digitally so that has been a recurring theme for a while now. I’ve actually recently acquired a kiln and have been making hand made tiles in order to push my Arabesque tessellation back towards some of its ceramic origins. Now there is a kiln in the studio I’m aiming to get as much use as possible out of it so there are slipcast sculptures lying around in porcelain and stoneware and I’ll be revealing these soon.
Is there a message in your art?
This type of question used to be challenging, I always used to think that there isn’t and that it is what it is. But I’ve realised that with the “COMMERCIUM CRANIRUM” series, the images
within these skulls tell a story, I can certainly provide the content, perhaps even a starting point, but as the viewers eyes dart around the images in a multitude of different directions and
different orders the journey that takes them to the end will be different for everyone. In effect these images from several books become a new book, that is to say, literally a brand new body of
literary work littered with little images.
I think this is true of my latest arabesque works in the “AD INFINITUM” series, as images are spliced, new images are created and singular stories begin to work in symbiosis to tell a new tale. The key is in the detail and the number of works within, their specific placement making the end of one image and the start of another indifferentiable until they are moulded into one new story.
Which famous art work would you save from a fire?
A cracking Dan Baldwin painting I have hanging up in my line of vision right now. I enjoy his consistent style and unfaltering ability to work his socks off across a variety of mediums, and I’d
like to credit him for helping me give up the poison that is cigarettes in order that my wife would let me buy this piece.
Which famous art work would you chuck to a fire?
Ha, I reckon it would have been interesting to see the chain reaction of a couple of matches thrown into Martin Creeds, Work No.200, Half the air in a given space, created in 2008. But only for the sake of creating a new piece as I totally don’t agree that any art should ever be doomed in such a hellish manner!
Where can we buy your art?
There’s a fairly easy to find location on my website www.the5683.com, although this is the year for independent gallery representation so watch this space.