Matthew Cheyne is an Australian artist, working in oil painting, drawing and sculpture. He graduated from the Queensland College of Art in 2001, having also studied film, and literature.
Cheyne's work is part oil painting, part hyper-colour drawing. Subjects as diverse as volcanoes, street hawkers and looters are rendered with the same dark humour. “I want to make work that presses forward, without sentimentality, but which invites people in and pulls them forward too.” Cheyne’s painting is full of that urgency, fuelled by the artist’s need for reinvention.
Though a figure painter at heart, his latest subjects inhabit deliciously tonal, abstracted backgrounds, inviting the viewer to flesh out the scene. The effect is deliberate. “It’s a move that frees me of some of the more rational symbolism of my earlier work. My art has become much more about my own internal world, but I’d like the viewer to be complicit.” In embracing a more intuitive approach, Cheyne allows his own work to surprise him. “It’s that hum between the lines that I’m always aiming for. It’s listening to the devil on my shoulder who’s telling me, “F&%* it, go ahead, mess with it".
The vibrant colours are often set in tension with the subject matter. Volcanoes, a recurring subject that Cheyne refers to as “nature’s middle-finger to bucolic landscape painting”, are nevertheless dealt with in innocuous candy pinks or transformed by serene indigo. An optimism that infuses even the darkest subject matter is becoming a hallmark of his work. The illegal street hawkers Cheyne shared turf with while working en plein air in France are lavished with a kind of urban neon camouflage. Looters and hooded gangs inhabit dripping ice cream abstractions. “A lot of the time the hooded figures are more representative of an aspect of my personality, or that of someone close to me. They are an attitude. They’re emblematic rather than representational.”
Cheyne has spent much of the last decade living in Germany and France and has had solo exhibitions in Cologne, Berlin and Luxembourg. In Australia, his work has been shown at Casula Powerhouse in Sydney and at the Australian National Archives in Canberra, as well as with numerous commercial and public galleries.
Matthew’s drawing is the subject of a book entitled “Theory of Flaw”, published by Capital P. He was recently part of an artist exchange to Sichuan, China, completing work for Pengzhou City’s permanent collection. His work is in collections in Australia, Malaysia, France, Germany, China and the United States.
MATTHEW CHEYNE | SOME OF THEM HAD IT COMING
oil and ink on canvas
240 x 180cm$19,000.00