Last week I was interviewed by Lucas Millheim, editor of iF World Design Guide. I was asked about my Death Landscape collages, the difference between graphic design and illustration, Indian matchboxes, visual culture and what song moves me.
Jia Khanna recently interviewed me for Platform Magazine. I was invited to deconstruct my practice and talk about my Sandown series.
‘A bi-monthly Creative Lifestyle magazine, Platform initiates thought and explores the creative industry. We promote, applaud and present fresh, relevant and visually stunning features on art, design writing, film, music, photography, style and other creative genres. A space where innovation and substance intersect through popular culture today, Platform caters to an eclectic and evolved readership.’
A feature on me in today’s “India by Design” issue of Eye Magazine in The Indian Express.
An interview with me, from today’s issue of The Hindu:
A continuing story: Matt Lee talks about how new matchboxes are printed all the time and how his series can never be complete
What sparked your interest in collecting Indian matchboxes? When did you begin collecting these? I began collecting Indian matchboxes when I moved from London to Bangalore in 2007. The first one I came across featured an illustration of a killer whale with a caption that read ‘dolphin’. I found this inaccuracy quite amusing – So, my first connection with these matchboxes was that aside from being great designs, they seemed quite random and they made me smile.
Is there a common theme/subject that binds the designs painted on the matchboxes together? The visuals that adorn this collection include historical and religious iconography, Indian pop culture, appropriated western imagery, mundane objects, and various animals. I don’t think there is a common linear theme, however, I think that the disparate meanings and juxtapositions that are present through this series of designs encapsulate quite perfectly the heterogeneous and hybrid visual culture of modern India.
What attracts you to a particular matchbox before you decide to include it into your collection? Most of the designs that I come across add something new to the collection and so there is no particular aesthetic criteria. For me, the attraction is towards the regular matchboxes that can be found on the street; around roadside chai stalls, cigarette kiosks and highway dhabas. I don’t go out of my way to find matchboxes, but stumbling across one that I don’t have in my collection always brightens up my day!
MACHO MEN AND FLIRTATIOUS WOMEN
What prompted you to study the visual relationship shown between men and women in Indian cinema, that too, through poster art? It is an extension of my other projects that explore relationships between representation and reality. My approach to framing has been inspired in part by Jacques Derrida’s book The Truth in Painting, in which he uses Immanuel Kant’s concept of Parergon (ornament) as a basis for deconstructing the ‘supplementary’ and internal/ external role of the image frame.
Ink, Matt Lee/ Smriti Mehra
Macho Men and Flirtatious Women led Matt to join efforts with artist Smriti Mehra and create a short film titled INK for the City One Minutes foundation, Holland. The piece is a silent, objective documentation of the lithographers working at Balaji Lithographers, Bengaluru and how the posters provide an aspirational quotient to their lives.
What else’s in the pipeline? Smriti and I are planning to create a longer film at the lithographic printers. This time we intend to focus on the machine worker’s stories; we were intrigued by the conversations that center around the slow parts of the afternoon, playing cards while waiting for the print plates to arrive. Another project we have in the pipeline is a film on the printers at Shivakasi where the matchboxes and packaging for fireworks are produced._