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Sea Marks

23/07 2011 – 17/08 2011


Peter Matthews’ work is profoundly concerned with the direct and experiential interpretation and representation of reality. Not an augmented or virtual reality, but a reality that exists out-there on and in the oceans. Matthews works in solitude while being immersed for hours on end in the ocean. He carries no GPS, electronic tracking or location finding devices. Most recently his work has taken a monumental journey into the vastness and nothingness that makes up his subject, the ocean. By eliminating the distance to the intertidal beach area, he ventures out farther into the ocean, towards the horizon.

The work on show at Mendes Wood was created while drifting on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean for numerous hours. Drifting freely, venturing further and further out into horizon in search of a place or space to observe, his imagination and spirit continue to be stretched widly. Matthews is intrigued by the relationship between the object (drawing) and the subject (the ocean). The simple plywood drawing board in which the paper is nailed onto has taken a conceptual leap forward in this new work. The drawing board is opened up while in the ocean to create an amplified drawing area. The heightened sense of mobility and pictorial scale is influenced by contemporary trends in mobile telecommunication devices and high definition screens, which, although provide high resolution images, can create a sense of detachment from what is being projected. The dispersion of mass while on the water is a compelling force for Matthews, and the sudden gravitational thrust that is exerted onto the drawing when it emerges out of the ocean creates an intense effect.

The marks, stains, indentations, folds and other surface and material reactions a  result from the forces and actions of innumerable waves passing over the drawin. They also come as a the result of the paper being fully saturated in the ocean and then being laid to dry under the intense heat of the sun. At the center of his work exists a boundary, which Matthews dissolves through and resurfaces within. Some term this as the experience of ex-tasis – literally, exiting oneself. In the ocean, time does not move like it moves on dry land. There is a meditative elemen to Matthews' work. In heading out into the waters, one leaves dry land behind. When he is drawing what he sees while drifting on the ocean’s surface, far removed from any form of communication, Matthews immerses himself in a highly personal and intimate space, a fluid and vast space detached from modern civilization.

Matthews is determined to constantly to challenge the depth of his perception, shifting between angles and perspectives and in doing so discovering and capture something that is cosmic and sublime. Our evolutionary impulse for survival is slowed down and accelerated simultaneously. He becomes lost in a transcendental mirage of perception, an image of physical and mental fragmentation. During the profound observations of the processes of time and place, energy and entropy, presence and absence – something is revealed, partially mapped on paper as a fragment, but equally something is lost, disappeared and left behind. These simultaneous incidents and occurrences are integral to the work. The marks on paper follow flight paths of birds travelling immense distances, or the movements of celestial bodies such as the sun in the sky. The drawings have been produced while out-there; in the ocean. They have become the ocean in many ways, imbued with a spirit, a particular animism – something that eludes and is rapidly ebbing away in our modern digital world. The philosophy and practice of wabi-sabi is of interest to Matthews – the notions of impermanence, imperfection and incompleteness.

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