Matthew Collings admits to doodling throughout his life as an artist, but materialization of his current body of drawings emerged in June, 2020 following the onset of the Corona Virus and his participation in an initiative entitled Artist Support Pledge created by fellow artist, Matthew Burrows. The main focus of the project was to create a sustainable movement to support fellow artists during the pandemic. Guidelines were fairly straightforward: utilizing the social media platform Instagram, artists could post images of their work using #artistsupportpledge for visibility as well as marketability. Pricing was typically $200 per piece (Collings sells his for £200), and once an artist had sold $1000, he in turn would purchase a piece from a fellow artist for $200. Collings began listing his sketchy portraits featuring famous artists like deKooning, Guston, Bacon, and many others in conjunction with the project and immediately became a sensation, selling most of what he listed.
This is a divergence from his previous collaborative work with painter and life partner, Emma Biggs. The two work together on prismatic abstract compositions that explore geometry and color. Collings’ solo work still relies heavily on color, but the mark making is far looser, saturated in some areas, sketchy in others, and is very playfully tied to the canon of more recent art history and portraiture. His imagination fills in the gaps that art history has given to us, and although these narratives are often more fantastical than realistic, the humanism, struggles, and complex identities and relationships to artists, politics and movements creates fascinating portrayals of both theoretical situations as well as historical ones. We are aware of Collings’ brilliance and the depth of his biographical knowledge pertaining to Warhol, Krasner, Duchamp, Kahlo, Hilma af Klint and so many others. His storytelling, however is what surprises us as he speculates supposed consummations, intertwining, seances, conversations, afflictions and intimacies between personalities that may not have known each other as deeply as Collings suggests. We are left with beautifully composed tall tales of art legends, rendered in truth, history, and flashes of juicy fiction. Rendered on the traditional 8.5” x 11” paper with colored pencils and Stabilo crayons, the exuberance is felt in both application of materials and expression of subject matter. There is no doubt that Collings is enjoying the scenarios he creates just as much as we enjoy marveling at the complexity of thought, the mischievousness, and the fearless nature he depicts his muses.
Collings admits that by working on these gestural pieces in the height of the pandemic, there was a catharsis. His prolific devotion to his craft becomes evident in the volume of drawings produced. In September, 2021, he estimated that he had created nearly 1,500 drawings. He continues to create and sell several drawings a day.
We are thrilled that Matthew will be joining us on Tuesday, June 14th, 2022 at 8:00 pm, EST. Please join us here with your favorite beverage for a live interview and chat.