Meet the artist Matthew Webber

Short summary about you?

I am a landscape-focused painter, who has lived and worked in East London for 20 years.

What is your art about?

We live on the edge of Epping Forest in East London and the relationship between the urban and the natural is a constant source of inspiration to me. My most recent series of paintings was produced from the back of my campervan, which I use as a mobile studio over the summer months – locating myself in the heart of the forest – but hemmed in by the motorways and main roads that are the arteries of modern life. I try and express this juxtaposition in my work.
Wood Land II - 18 cm x 20 cm x 5 cm - 2015

Wood Land II – 18 cm x 20 cm x 5 cm – 2015

When working on a new project, what are the first steps you do?

Each new painting begins with a structure or shape drawn from nature. The exposed branches of trees in winter can often form the basis for a piece, but once this starting point is in place, the painting begins to take on a life of its own. Using specially mixed liquid oil and acrylic paints I begin to draw onto the surface of my canvas, gradually building a textured and densely worked ‘block’ of paint and material, which may comprise 30 layers or more by the time I have completed this part of the process. This stage may take several months to complete, and often involves the paintings being left out in the landscape that I am working from.

When I feel that all the parts of the painting are in place, I begin to strip the surface away, rapidly at first (using power tools and paint strippers) and then more slowly as the final painting begins to reveal itself to me. The latter stages of this process involve polishing and smoothing this surface to create a hardened, marble-like finish without texture or brushstroke. This process of ‘unpainting’ is destructive and unpredictable but – with luck – yields unique and beautiful surfaces which expose the journey of each painting’s creation, natural and unnatural forms intricately interwoven and preserved.
Plastic (OBW0916) - 45 cm x 37 cm - 2016

Plastic – 45 cm x 37 cm – 2016

Has anything changed about your working processes during your artistic career?

My work has certainly evolved over the last two decades, but my love of landscape and my excitement about the possibilities of paint has not diminished.
Clearing (WGG1116) - 30 cm x 47 cm - 2016

Clearing – 30 cm x 47 cm – 2016

What do you enjoy most about your work as an artist?

My love of painting is matched by my passion for bike racing and I am fortunate that these two aspects of my life complement each other so perfectly. My chosen disciplines of cycle sport are off-road and this means that I spend many hours riding and training in the forests and bike trails of the UK, so my time on the bike also feeds into my studio and painting practice.
The Retreat (BGW0916) - 30 cm x 20 cm - 2016 - x

The Retreat – 30 cm x 20 cm – 2016

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