insideKENT Magazine Issue 49 - April 2016 - Page 23

ARTS+ENTERTAINMENT Kent Artist Profile: Matthew Alexander Matthew Alexander has always loved the Garden of England. insideKENT’s Lisamarie Lamb recently spoke to him about his love of the county, the inspiration behind his paintings, and what the future holds for him – including a fifth fascinating exhibition at Thompson’s Gallery in London. How would you describe your art? I am a landscape painter and am proud to continue a tradition in art that reveres the production of paintings executed in oil paint and contained within the confines of a canvas or board. This statement may sound rather obvious, but when one considers that the word ‘art’ has come to mean anything created by anyone who considers themselves to be an artist I feel it necessary to clarify my attitude to this wonderfully diverse and challenging discipline. What inspires you? My work is deeply rooted in the great tradition of European landscape painting and can be regarded as a continuation of the British Impressionist Movement. Having lived all my life in Kent, I garner inspiration from the wonderful landscape of this beautiful county which has nurtured my artistic endeavours since childhood. I travel widely and have been inspired to paint in the furthest corners of the UK and also in many of the countries and cities of mainland Europe. You have your fifth solo exhibition at Thompson’s Gallery in London coming up; is it still just as exciting to see your work on display as it was the first time? My exhibition at Thompson’s Gallery is a great opportunity to display my paintings to a truly international clientele and I am always excited, if not somewhat apprehensive, to see how my latest creations are received by a broader public audience. What is the most difficult painting you’ve ever undertaken? All paintings are difficult as the final result only comes into focus as the painting progresses. I always get worried when a painting feels easy as that’s usually a sure sign that things are going to go badly. I have learnt over time to suspend judgment of newly finished pieces and review a painting in the cold light of day. Fresh eyes will usually tell me if it’s a ‘keeper’! What is it about the Kent countryside that makes it so perfect to paint? I do feel that Kent has a much more varied landscape than most people appreciate. The coastal features around Thanet where I was born and continue to live have given me some of my most enduring subject matter – sometimes gentle, sometimes spectacular but always changing; and the skies (as noted by our greatest artist JMW Turner) are the finest to be found in Europe. The countryside in mid-Kent near Tenterden, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells is beautiful because of the unspoilt rural landscape. The whole county has retained incredible variety and diversity despite the pressures from housing and business development. What has been your proudest artistic achievement to date? I have, (like many I’m sure) had many successes and many failures, all of which contribute to the fullness of life and I try not to dwell on them too much. As Graham Clarke (one of our great Kentish artists) once told me: “You wouldn’t have become an artist if you weren't an optimist!” Where can we see your work? I continue to show my work in various galleries in the UK and the USA and I also have my own studio/gallery in Monkton, Kent where I hold occasional shows of my work. Details of these can be found on my website. What does the future hold? Wouldn’t we all like to know the answer to that question! I have a few exhibitions planned and a couple sketched in and a few exciting projects that I am working on, but really I just keep painting and responding to my own inner direction and time will tell where that leads me. 23