Tag Archives: Bangalore

The New Indian Express – Interview

A short interview in The New Indian Express today about my Matchbox Collection…

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2016/dec/20/dolphin-the-killer-whale-started-it-1551361–1.html

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Sabbatical

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Sometime in late 2006 I bought a Moleskine journal and a small selection of Tombow pens from a store on Tottenham Court Road in London. Nearly ten years later I rediscovered these supplies at the back of a drawer in my Bangalore studio and felt bad I had never used them – there and then I started working, and from the first few quick and spontaneous drawings this series took shape.

See the full series of 27 drawings here.

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Daily Serving – Article

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September 29, 2016 Written by Mailee Hung

http://dailyserving.com/2016/09/fan-mail-matt-lee/

There is a certain playful unknowability to Matt Lee’s work. As preoccupied with structure as its inverse, Lee’s pieces suggest an interaction with the intangible that is at once wholly serious and strangely lighthearted. Confronted by subjects like death, absence, and emptiness, a viewer might expect an oeuvre weighted down by existential dread, but in Lee’s work, these subjects become lively participants in conversation with their environs. Though they offer little in the way of consolation about oblivion, Lee’s pieces propose a wry characterization of the unknown that is rather cheeky; death may be coming, but it feels oddly familiar.

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Matt Lee. Untitled, from Presence of Absence, 2011; archival inkjet print; 14.2 x 21.3 cm.

In the aptly named series Presence of Absence (2011), emptiness is a figurative entity intruding upon the mundane. Lee created this series in response to his move to Bangalore, as he tried to make sense of his new home. A viewer might imagine the artist being surrounded by signs full of meaning but rendered meaningless by unfamiliarity. In the series, absence is made into an insistent material presence. As this looming void becomes more tangible and undeniable, its character becomes almost approachable. In some works, there is an endearing shyness to the black masses peering over rooftops or peeking around buildings. Lee does not so much demystify oblivion as render it surprisingly friendly.

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Matt Lee. Untitled, from Presence of Absence, 2011; archival inkjet print; 14.2 x 21.3 cm. 

Likewise, Lee’s Death Landscapes (2008–) feel oddly familiar despite their vague forms. Given Lee’s background in commercial illustration, all of his images have a distinctly graphic quality that makes elements of his work identifiable despite the fact that they address the fundamentally unknowable. The playfulness of Death Landscapes comes less from a direct characterization of death than from the oblique admixture of the abstract and the recognizable. A collage from Death Landscapes II (2015) is an eerie landscape, with ghostlike tendrils drifting upward from a dark island on the pale page. But from the center of this mass juts a bright rectangle on a pole—part stadium lights, part marquee, part basketball hoop. The result is a disjunction that feels playfully absurd, simultaneously serious and silly. The work’s formal reference to signage flirts with a critique of capitalism before it veers past the political and into the existential. It seems to say, “Sure, commercialism is absurd, but how about death?”

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Matt Lee. Untitled, from Death Landscapes II, 2015; cut paper; 8.9 cm x 11.4 cm.

matt_lee-death_landscapes_2-11Matt Lee. Untitled, from Death Landscapes II, 2015; cut paper; 8.9 cm x 11.4 cm.

In his Death Landscapes, Lee’s characterization of the incongruities between the unidentifiable and the concrete produces an effect that is pleasantly somnambulistic in its strangeness. The viewer is asked to accept an unknown element as part of the visual lexicon, inviting it to become familiar while remaining mysterious. In one piece, a rocky black outcropping reminds one of a gate to the underworld, but the billboard-like sign above it complicates any sense of solemnity the form may suggest. This juxtaposition does not make the landscape more comprehensible, but it does make it less frightening. The artist’s overall proposition is a consent to the liminal—an uneasy assumption that the unknown is not necessarily an existential threat but rather simply curious.

matt_lee-death_landscapes_3-16Matt Lee. Untitled, from Death Landscapes III, 2016; cut paper; 13.8 x 18.3 cm.

Lee’s most recent series, Death Landscapes III (2016), is a more somber affair. Using collaged plain paper to suggest landscapes, these works lack the graphic juxtaposition of color photographs and black shapes that had given his previous works their liveliness; they instead convey a more tactile exploration. Their physical qualities of light and shadow reveal the landscape forms within a funereal cast of bone white. But while this series loses the playfulness innate to many of Lee’s other pieces, it gains a material presence. Here, Lee’s expression of absence is most tangibly felt—the void an extension of material form rather than a refutation of it. This is the ultimate ethos of Lee’s work: that strangeness is familiar, that the unknown is recognizable, and that the void is undeniably present.

 

Matt Lee is an artist, illustrator, design consultant, and educator. His work has been published by Gestalten, Creative Review, and NY Arts, and has been exhibited across North America, Europe, and Asia, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Mall Galleries in London, and the Alla Prima International Art Fair in Delhi. Originally from the United Kingdom, Lee currently lives in Bangalore, in southern India. He has a passion for Indian matchboxes, surf music, and preppy clothes. He can be found on Instagram (@mattrdlee) and Twitter (@mattlee).

The Bangalore Hunt, 2016

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The Bangalore Hunt, 2016

Smriti Mehra, Matt Lee

Through photography, audio and text, this project shows the physical and mental journey of newly released laboratory rescue beagles and documents the search for suitable homes for them. The project offers a perspective on the use of these hounds in the present day context of Bangalore.

The series of photographs depict the arrival of the beagles at the rescue centre as they are let out of cages for the first time.

The audio piece is a conversation between a CUPA volunteer and a potential ‘pet parent’. It explains the process for adoption as well as the various problems these beagles face in adapting to their new home.

The text displayed on screen is an email sent to unsuitable candidates, which lists the reasons for their rejection.

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THE BANGALORE HUNT

10th -12th June, 2016
Venkatappa Art Gallery, Bangalore

The exhibits of The Bangalore Hunt included new creative work by artists who work at the Srishti Institute of Art, design and Technology, Bangalore. The art work is based on a small private archive of photographs, newspaper cuttings, annotations, letters and postcards that belonged to Stephen Simon Simmons, who was posted in Bangalore in the 1930’s. Mostly a document of the Bangalore Hunt, this collection reflects a leisure time activity for the British, who were once stationed in Bangalore’s Cantonment.

The participant artists included Raghavendra Rao, Suresh Kumar, Amitabh Kumar, Abhishek Hazra, Arnab Basu, Yashas Shetty, Alison Byrnes, Leslie Johnson, Smriti Mehra, Matt Lee, Rakhi Peswani, Pooja Kaul, Aditi Banerjee, Ayisha Abraham. The artists responded with their own images, performance, audio and video, to bring alive a collection that can at best be described historically as a strange moment in time. The new work addressed themes found in the images, such as the shift from hunting on the pastoral rural landscape, toward land-as-real estate, in today’s time, among others.

The exhibition was curated by Alison Byrnes and Ayisha Abraham.

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An Artistic Hunt – Deccan Herald (13.06.2016)Deccan Herald

Bangalore Hunt – Bangalore MirrorBangalore Mirror

The Bangalore Hunt

Exhibition Invite

10th -12th June, 2016
Venkatappa Art Gallery, Kasturba Road, Bangalore

Timings: 10am to 5pm
Opening: 10th June, 5pm to 7pm

The exhibits of The Bangalore Hunt include new creative work by artists who work at the Srishti Institute of Art, design and Technology, Bangalore. The art work is based on a small private archive of photographs, newspaper cuttings, annotations, letters and postcards that belonged to Stephen Simon Simmons, who was posted in Bangalore in the 1930’s. Mostly a document of the Bangalore Hunt, this collection reflects a leisure time activity for the British, who were once stationed in Bangalore’s Cantonment.

The participant artists are Raghavendra Rao, Suresh Kumar, Amitabh Kumar, Abhishek Hazra, Arnab Basu, Yashas Shetty, Alison Byrnes, Leslie Johnson, Smriti Mehra, Matt Lee, Rakhi Peswani, Pooja Kaul, Aditi Banerjee, Ayisha Abraham. The artists have responded with their own images, performance and video, to bring alive a collection that can at best be described historically as a strange moment in time. The new work addresses themes found in the images, such as the shift from hunting on the pastoral rural landscape, toward land-as-real estate, in today’s time, among others.

An opening reception with live performances will take place on Friday, 10th June, from 5-7pm in the auditorium.

Presence of Absence at Drive-by Video

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Last week my video Presence of Absence was included in Drive-by Video – a public art project in which the works of 15 artists were projected onto the walls of seven empty commercial spaces at the newly built Prestige Plaza in Yelahanka New Town, Bangalore. Also playing was Ink – a video collaboration with Smriti Mehra.

Artists: Abhishek Hazra, Abhiyan Humane, Aileen Blaney, Alison Byrnes, Chinar Shah, Leslie Johnson, Matt Lee, Otto Mogren, Rachita Rao, Siddhanth Shetty, Smriti Mehra, Tahireh Lal, Ujjwal Utkarsh, Upasna Bhatia, Vinayak Nagesh

The project was curated by Leslie Johnson, Smriti Mehra and Siddharth Shetty.

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Drive-by Video

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“Drive-by video” is a presentation of video works of 15 artists. This event, on October 30 is supported by Prestige Construction who have generously given space to the project in Prestige Plaza—a new shopping center on Yelehanka New Town Main Road.

Located near Mother Dairy Circle, Drive-by Video can be seen in the future commercial spaces of Prestige Plaza from moving vehicles, passers-by or those that come specifically to view each work. The videos have a broad range of content, from documenting nature, to animation of everyday life, to how to pack a suitcase.

Artists:
Abhishek Hazra, Abhiyan Humane, Aileen Blaney, Alison Byrnes, Chinar Shah, Leslie Johnson, Matt Lee, Otto Mogren, Rachita Rao, Siddhanth Shetty, Smriti Mehra, Tahireh Lal, Ujjwal Utkarsh, Upasna Bhatia, Vinayak Nagesh

Prestige Plaza, Yelahanka New Town Main Road, Bangalore

Friday, October 30th. 18:00–21:00pm