In anticipation of Matlok Griffiths’ July show, we visited his Abbotsford studio to see the progress of his self-described drawn works. Any visit with Griffiths results in an excitable frenzy of research: starting in this instance with a return to the dictionary definition of that little word ‘draw’. For what I saw was not at all crude. It turns out my drawing experience (Pictionary) which colours the term, is not sufficiently broad, for here there were ‘images made with lines and marks’ in myriad ways that makes it true and so much more sophisticated.
Totemic instruments fashioned by Griffiths (an example of which Lou caught below) are reversed to alternate lead lines with brushed and scraped surfaces. Enamel, tea and oils give way to Griffiths’ growing suite of iconography, which he collects from the revered: Matisse, Guston, Hockney, to the infamous – Captain Beefheart.
His show at Chapter House Lane comes after a considerable solo exhibition ‘New Thoughts on Luxury’ at Blockprojects which is a must see (and on display until 25 May). The works he’ll show in July are less polished and take the collective title ‘Out of Touch’ – words chosen by Griffiths and written by Ashley Crawford in the catalogue essay for an earlier show ‘All these words keep getting in our way’. “Works that rely upon gut association, upon things such as colour and form and, dare we say it, even emotion, are flagrantly dismissed as out of touch.” Crawford writes. He suggests Griffiths’ work is an antidote to the disease taking root in the art world – one that is spawned by academics and spread by bureaucrats’ bastardisation of philosophy. His assessment is Griffiths will be crushed. But not by us. We are definitely on the dancefloor with him.
Robert Hollingworth, reviewing ‘New Thoughts on Luxury’ names Griffiths as one of the “contemporary artists who seem to disregard these rationalist modes of thought”, that is, the binary framework, defining something as one thing, or the other. Rather, Griffiths’ work is part of a pursuit which “might easily turn left or right, reconcile or complicate further” any semblance of the definitive “abstraction / representational” divide.
This might mean there’s no knowing what you’ll get. But rest assured, it’s 100 percent Matlok and a testament to his skill that early in his career he’s been able to develop a strong, identifiable style. Matlok Griffiths has recently joined the stable of artists represented by Blockprojects. His show ‘Out of Touch’ is at Chapter House Lane from 4-28 July, with an opening from 6-8pm, Thursday 4 July.