In November 2022, Vigo gallery, London will present a long awaited exhibition of new paintings by Matthew Burrows MBE (1971-) within the historic environs of the Wellington Arch Museum. This Burrows’ first solo exhibition since his conception and launch of the Artist Support Pledge, an internationally successful initiative that created a micro economy that has generated tens of millions of sales for artists through instagram and related activity since its inception in March 2020.
Included in the show will be new, larger scale works, the fruition of his development of his In and Through series which he developed during the COVID pandemic.
These paintings reflect Burrows’ interest in connection, ‘… to ourselves, one another, and our environment… and the conditions in which we all might thrive’.
Burrows lives and works in the East Sussex countryside, his studio overlooking the Tillingham valley and Beckley Wood, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from which he also directs the Artist Support Pledge movement.
The artist describes his relationship with habitat as “… one of dwelling, imagination, and ritual, rather than description or nostalgia. It is a process of mythologising, of drawing meaning from the particularities of the environment and of my movement in and through it. I want painting to open up the rich complexities of our nature/s by the most direct means possible”.
The titles of the exhibited works echo Burrows’ preoccupation with the experience of landscape: Lineament, Sternō, Shataph, and Gatescape. Collectively, they suggest a mapping of nature, an attempt to understand an implicit relationship, a relationship of interdependence. Burrows concerns around the societal failure to connect nature with culture, was part of the genesis behind Artist Support Pledge.
“Our failure to be natural is an exposure of our human folly. Nature is not to be controlled, but to be lived in and through to be understood within a broad eco system”.
Burrows sees himself as a joint maker at the crossroads and inresection of pattern and imagination, ritual and prophecy, presence and contingency. The fluid layers of thinned paint are held in tension between the vertical and the horizontal. For him, the horizontal is the realm of the imagination and the vertical is bound by repetition and ritual. It is the tension between these two where the dynamic within each painting exists, not as an either/or, but as an acceptance of their codependence. ‘Imagination without ritual becomes meaningless, whilst ritual without imagination loses a sense of vitality and life’ says Burrows.
Speaking about the making of the work and his unusual use of natural fibres, Burrows says: “The paintings are made on jute and burlap, and the coarse open weave gives a tactile surface on which the layers of thin paint are brushed, washed and poured. These paintings are made in thin layers, in alternating colours. The coarse burlap and jute creates a rough texture and an open weave, resisting mechanical perfection and symmetry. I developed the motifs from drawings of the landscape around my studio. These are combined with images of gates, fences, and electrical pylons, industrial interventions into the environment. The process of redrawing and painting creates an entrophy of these structures until they combine with the forms of the landscape, creating skeletal patterns. I see these as visual mantras inviting meditation, taking the landscape from being a view to look at, to an experience of being. “
On a good week Matthew runs around 70 miles In and Through his local landscape.