Victor Matthews is the real deal. He’s the old school, reserved, quiet artist that you don’t come across everyday. This artwork speaks for itself so when I got the chance to interview Victor Matthews, I took the opportunity with great candor and grace. Please join me as we get into the mind of Mr. Matthews and explore his background, work and where life has taken him.
Interview by our editor-in-chief, Holly Greene Hoover.
Holly: I’ve often romanticized and dreamt of living in New York in the 1970s and 1980s. Can you describe some fond memories from your time growing up there?
Victor Matthews: I often think about the times of the 70s and 80s in NYC when I was growing up. I grew up in Crown Heights - a neighborhood in Brooklyn.
The fondest memory I have of that time? I couldn't wait to draw. I wanted to draw. My mother encouraged my drawing. She gave me my first studio, which was effectively a large closet. I would draw everything in the house - her shoes, fruit, ketchup bottles.
When I went to school, I would wait for art class - that was my favorite class. I went to IS 210 - an art school at PS 138. I had a great art teacher named Mr. Bailey who encouraged me a lot in those years. He encouraged me to apply to the High School of Art and Design on 57th Street in Manhattan. I had never gone to Manhattan in my life.
I remember the first time I visited the High School of Art and Design. I remember taking the subway from Brooklyn and carrying my art portfolio, which felt bigger than me at the time. I remember that I was so excited when I was accepted to that high school because very few students from the outer boroughs were accepted at that time. That moment changed my life. The High School of Art and Design is where I really discovered what I wanted to do in life. I started painting there. It's where I learned about Manhattan and fell in love with Manhattan.
Holly: What words of wisdom would you give yourself as an artist in your early days?
Victor: I have always followed my feelings - followed my soul. l got addicted to working - painting and drawing. Growing up, I avoided problem people. I kept to myself. I just loved to draw. I don't know what advice I would give to my younger self because I knew what I wanted from an early age; I knew what I loved and I did that. Maybe I would say to my younger self: remember that art should not feel like work. It should feel effortless. But I think I knew that already, you know?
Holly: Can you describe the state of mind, or an emotional state, you are in when you are creating art?
Victor: Sometimes, it can feel like the Earth stands still when you are working hours and hours alone. Time stands still. You are alone, but you aren't alone. Your head is full of thoughts. You have a subject matter pictured in your mind's eye. The struggle is that it never comes out the way you imagine it in your head. That is the battle. Ideally, when you are creating a piece that is working, you feel a connection with that piece. When you feel that connection, you don't feel alone. I don't know how to describe the feeling of connection. If I could verablize that feeling better, I would probably be a writer or a poet. I struggle to describe it, but I know what it is when it happens in that moment.
Holly: During the pandemic lock downs in 2020, did you find yourself particularly creative?
Victor: Yes. I created a lot of new work even though it was difficult to source art supplies. I had to be careful with what supplies I had. I had to be resourceful. I eventually found one place where I could buy large rolls of canvas at a good bulk price. After that, I was painting all day. I was basically sleeping and painting. Sometimes, I would watch a movie or a documentary or some news and then go back to painting. I would like to show all of these pieces one day - I will.
Holly: Where are you most looking forward to travel now that many restrictions / travel bans are lifting all over the world?
Victor: It needs to be a place where I can paint. I don't just travel for fun - I need to be able to paint. I produce work everywhere I go. A lot of travel comes to me organically through my work. For example, I just returned from Barbados where I was painting a custom mural for the past few weeks. At the moment, I am back in New York and I am happy to be back in New York.
Victor Matthews is represented by Space Gallery St Barth in the US and Caribbean. For information about his work contact email@example.com.