Tag Archives: Interview

iF World Design Guide – Interview

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.

http://ifworlddesignguide.com/interview-matt-lee

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WERTN Interview

A short interview about my Death Landscapes series on La Maison Wertn.

http://wertn.com/2016/05/interview-matt-lee/

Thanks to Guillaume Kurkdjian.

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Platform

Jia Khanna recently interviewed me for Platform Magazine. I was invited to deconstruct my practice and talk about my Sandown series.

http://www.platform-mag.com/art/matt.html

‘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.’

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The Indian Express

A feature on me in today’s “India by Design” issue of Eye Magazine in The Indian Express.

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The Hindu Interview

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Life in a Matchbox: Happiness is Best Contained

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

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Matt Lee is an artist, illustrator and educator from the U.K., at present working from Bangalore.

The first matchbox that I came across featured an illustration of a killer whale with a caption that read ‘dolphin’.

I found this inaccuracy between the text and image quite amusing. Looking back now, I think that my first connection with Indian matchboxes was that aside from being great examples of disposable design, they often seemed quite random and they made me smile.

I began collecting matchboxes soon after I moved to Bangalore from London in 2007.

Collecting these became an extension of a wider interest that I have in hoarding small, tactile examples of illustration and visual culture.

What keeps me going now is that new designs are printed all the time. Across such a vast country as India, I can only ever have a fraction of the designs available. The series is never complete. Each new design that I come across does not offer a resolution, but rather adds to the collection and the continuing story.

For me, the attraction is towards the Re. 1 wax matchboxes that can be found on the street near roadside chai stalls, cigarette kiosks and highway dhabas.

I have collected around 500 matchboxes in my travels across India. As souvenirs, many of these designs signify personal memories. Collectively, the visible scars of the battered boxes tell a story, mapping the places I have been to and the experiences I have had. I often receive emails from people asking if I would like to trade or buy matchboxes from them, but it’s not really about that for me.

There is no particular aesthetic criterion or selection process that I have in mind.

Though I try not to collect duplicates, most of the designs that I come across add something new to the collection.

The visuals that adorn the matchboxes often include historical and religious iconography, Indian pop culture, appropriated western imagery, mundane objects, and lots and lots of animals.

There is no common linear theme, however, the disparate meanings and juxtapositions that are present through the series of designs do seem to encapsulate quite perfectly the heterogeneous and hybrid visual culture of modern India.

I have had offers to exhibit the collection abroad, but at this time they stand proudly on a shelf in the front room of my apartment.

By way of displaying and sharing these with a wider audience, I have photographed each of the designs and the full collection can be seen on my website. At some point in the near future, I plan to make a short film on the printers of Sivakasi, where the matchboxes and packaging for fireworks are produced. It would be interesting to trace the journey of a matchbox from the printers and the wholesalers through to where they are sold and used on the street.

I do not go out of my way to find or buy matchboxes, but stumbling across one that I do not already have always brightens up my day.

For me, the satisfaction is in the process of building a collection that holds sentimental significance rather than material value.

When I look at them, I am reminded of many things; an early morning walk through Periyar National Park with my father and brother; getting lost amongst the narrow lanes behind the Ghats in Varanasi; Chinese fishing nets in Fort Kochi; and many conversations with friends in Bangalore. So, it is about design that is visual, tangible, yet personal and also somehow elusive and unquantifiable.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/article2792871.ece

Platform_ Magazine Feature

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Matchboxes, Macho Men & Flirtatious Women

An artist and a visual thinker, Matt shifted base from UK to Bengaluru a couple of years ago, and has traveled the sub-continent ever since. His work explores the concept of society, delving deeper into logic and approved constructs. One of his projects include collecting Indian matchboxes. Having collected over 450 matchboxes as souvenirs, from the roadside chai stalls to highway dhabas, Matt believes that ‘the visible scars of the battered boxes tell a story.’ Another project is Macho Men and Flirtatious Women which documents the man-woman equation represented in South Indian cinema via movie posters.

MATCHBOXES

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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.

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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

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Tell us a bit about Macho Men and Flirtatious Women? This is an ongoing photographic series that I have been working on over the past couple of years. It features both the local language, hand drawn lithographic film posters, and the larger, glossier offset film posters, which contribute largely to the visual culture and character of the streets of Bangalore. This series explores the roles and relationships of men and women in contemporary Indian cinema through the disjointed, layered and torn fragments that these film posters create.

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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.

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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._

http://blog.platform-mag.com/?p=1460