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Bob is an artist and exhibition organiser whose work is held in public and private collections in Europe, Asia and the United States.

Bob was educated at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art & Design, Kent Institute of Art & Design and the Royal College of Art.

Previously he has held research positions at both the University of Gloucestershire and the Royal College of Art, specialising in the area and development of print technologies, as well as working directly with print archives and collections. He was also worked at other UK universities, including as Senior Tutor at the University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury.  

Bob was the first British Council artist in residence for Singapore, culminating in an exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore 2011/12. As a curator he has organised exhibitions for Artary Galerie, Stuttgart; Castlefield Gallery, Manchester; Cell Project Space, London; Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury; Wolverhampton City Art Gallery; the Royal College of Art; The Nunnery, London; the Bank of America, London and the Study Gallery of Modern Art, Dorset.

Key details

School, Centre or Area

Expertise

Gallery

  • Studio Tan

    Studio Tan

  • Limbo

    Limbo

  • Studio Tan

    Studio Tan

  • Another circle round the Sun

    Another circle round the Sun

  • Another circle round the Sun

    Another circle round the Sun

  • Utopias

    Utopias

  • Utopias

    Utopias

  • Utopias

    Utopias

  • Still Life

    Still Life

  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Hangzhou

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Hangzhou

  • Ideas travel faster than light

    Ideas travel faster than light

  • Garden Ruin

    Garden Ruin

More information

Bob’s research is involved in identifying and characterising the use and cultivation of the landscape by small communal groups and collectives. At present this research looks directly at material and sites within Germany. Artworks and curatorial projects are made in response to and in direct relation with the landscape in these environments.

Through an interdisciplinary approach Bob's work manifests itself in a variety of ways, from traditional art production utilizing printmaking, painting and sculpture to collaborative interventions leading to independent curatorial projects involving other artists.His practice focuses on the landscape and specifically the environments used and cultivation by utopian communities and collectives. More recently the research examining the various histories and formations of the commune has led unexpectedly to the extremities of large-scale continental migration and the sprawling construction of temporary refuge settlements. The contrast between the ideological commune model and the various formal and informal migrant camps could not be starker, yet the manifestations and residue of these sites has much in common.  

An interest in the effects of sunlight on transitory objects found in and around the Mediterranean led to research into the pervasive qualities of ultraviolet light. Through practical experimentation this led to the development of a new ‘pigmented’ light-sensitive material. This has been used in the generation of a series of works for the solo exhibition Studio Tan, held in San Francisco at Gregory Lind Gallery in 2017.  This process has also been used to develop the series of new life jacket works made for ‘Gestures of Resistance’ that were shown in Athens in 2017 as part of the wider Documenta legacy projects, through artist-led demonstrations and exhibitions in the city. 

British Council Residency, Singapore 2011/12

Grant from British Council and Singapore International Foundation.

Studio Tan, Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco, 2017

Studio Tan is a solo exhibition that explores the prevalent and transformative qualities of ultraviolet light and its relationship to the threshold with the outside world. Works in this exhibition both mimic and utilise naturally occurring and artificial sources of ultraviolet, assisting the generation of absorbent images that consider the pervasive influence of light frequencies that are outside the human visible spectrum.  New artworks depict physical thresholds between studio and subject, between nature and architecture, and draw from ideas raised in Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project, and his use of the cautionary term Threshold Magic ‘der Schwellenzauber’

Drawn initially from Matthews’ interest in the chemical effects of sunrays he began to explore and develop a new light-sensitive pigment process combining aspects of colour theory with early photographic techniques. The resulting works on canvas utilise naturally occurring and artificial sources of ultraviolet in combination with painterly techniques, assisting the generation of absorbent images that consider the pervasive influence of light frequencies that are outside the human visible spectrum.

Gestures of Resistance, Romantso, Athens, 2017. Funded by the British Council, Documenta legacy project

Gestures of Resistance aims to respond to our current general mood of political anxiety and alienation by opening up socio-political critique in order to resist the palpable feeling of disempowerment. Rather than accepting the non-choice of the neoliberal setup of Greece or current right-wing politics both in America and Europe, the artists of Gestures of Resistance reflect on the current state of our political condition, our current housing situation, the state of education and art, liberalism, diversity and pluralism in this moment of historical crisis, whereby the state of today seems to have strong links to the state of the past.

The work made for this project, titled Still Life considers the scientific research term ‘Flotsametrics’ and reflects upon its relationship to the movement of currency and ideas, as well as the often tragic displacement and migration of people. The mixed media artworks are based on the form of life jackets, and specifically the crudely made and ineffective ‘fake’ life jackets that were given to fleeing migrants. As objects they are intended to function as paintings in the traditional sense, and as paintings to be worn. 

Ideas travel faster than light, NIV Art Centre, Delhi, and Habitat Centre, Delhi, India, 2015–16
Curated by Jasone Miranda Bilbao

Ideas travel faster than light is an ongoing collaboration between artists working in India, Spain, the UK and the US. The project has two parts. In the first part nine artists based in London/Bilbao/LA were invited to submit proposals for new works together with instructions of how to make them and nine artists based in Delhi and Mumbai were invited to produce them according to their interpretation and understanding. The works were exhibited at the NIV Art Centre (Delhi) as a collaboration between the paired artists. The instructions were gathered in a publication accompanied by a text written by Mathew Poole. The second part of the project will swap directions and the artists who wrote the instructions in the first part will now make the work and vice versa.

The main idea of the project came up as a practical solution to the problem of how to transport works across long distances on a small budget. This became a matrix of ideas and things grew in response to the possibilities offered by that condition and situation. Since ideas have a level of materiality different to objects that occupy a physical space, they can be lighter cheaper and freer to move.

Ideas travel faster than light facilitates the transporting of ideas while extending them and re-contextualising them in a new context. The process of writing instructions for new works in one place then making them in another, roots their origin in between locations while activating a chain of events that embodies them of a history and a life after, reproducing the mesmerising relation of intimacy between the maker and its object. This has a strong sociological element since from the moment an artwork is transported from one country to another, mediated and re-interpreted by a different mindset, questions of intention and interpretation come to the surface.

Another Circle Round The Sun, Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury, 2012

This project followed directly on from the residency in Singapore. The exhibition comprised of an installation that reflected on the temporality of materials and structures within the environment and considered the significant roll that time plays in the value and meaning of objects. Matthews is interested in how we might locate the artist or crafts-person within the collective and architectural projects that inspire him. In an examination of communal life and collective approaches to making, Matthews is searching for the individual within the larger group, and how they might be identifiable within this community by the traces, marks and motifs they leave behind.

Utopias, National Museum of Singapore, and Asia House, London, 2012
British Council Exchange Residency

This was a solo exhibition produced and funded by the British Council-Singapore International Foundation Artist-in-Residence Exchange Programme (AiRx). Focusing on how landscape is cultivated and subverted by cultural and fringe groups within Singapore, Matthews’ research drew upon current architectural and horticultural manifestations both inside and outside the city. As the inaugural British Council artist-in-residence in Singapore, Matthews was the first contemporary British artist to take up this residency. Working directly from found materials and photographs, Matthews created appositional works that illustrate perspectives of the city and the jungle through digital drawings, videos, constructions, watercolours and relief prints. The project developed into a greater consideration of the relationship between the rapid growth of architecture and jungle, their coexistence, and expansive threshold.

A Sort of Night to the Mind, A Kind of Night for Our Thoughts: Illusion and Materiality in Contemporary Painting. Artary Gallery, Stuttgart, Germany. Arch 402 Gallery, London. Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury. 2011. Curated by Bob Matthews and Moyra Derby

Matthews acted as co-curator of the international travelling exhibition A Sort of Night to the Mind, A Kind of Night for Our Thoughts: Illusion and Materiality in Contemporary Painting. The project emerged from specific interests concerning the ‘materiality’ of painting; formative research identified broad and contrasting approaches to surface application, media, materials and process. After its initial run at the Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury, the exhibition toured to Arch 402 Gallery, London  and to Artary Galerie, Stuttgart .

Critical developments in painting in the 20th century cultivated by Bauhaus artists Johannes Itten and Oskar Schlemmer underpinned the curatorial discourse of the exhibition and were a key factor in the show’s tour to Germany in 2011. The exhibition identified a group comprising 23 UK-based contemporary practitioners who exemplify a current state of painting within the UK and whose practices overtly explore ideas of materiality and illusion. The exhibition included some of the UK’s most celebrated contemporary painters, including Nigel Cooke, Varda Caivano, Phillip Allen and Phoebe Unwin.    

Solo exhibitions

Studio Tan, Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco, 2017

Another Circle Round The Sun, Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury, 2012

Utopias, Asia House, London, 2012

Utopias, National Museum of Singapore, 2011

Garden Ruin, Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco, 2009

Face Yourself, Keith Talent Gallery, London, 2008

Selected group exhibitions

2017

Gestures Of Resistance, Romantso, Athens

Horizon: Against Nature, Instituto Cervantes, New Delhi

of average sunlight, Kingsgate Project Space, London

The Arca Project, Payne Shurvell, Suffolk

2016

Conjunctively Evolving, Yun Contemporary Arts Center, Shanghai

Abstract Apartment, Deborah House, London

At 800° the Tokyo Kahuna will be moving to Montana soon…, Kingsgate Project Space, London

2015

Ideas travel faster than light, NIV Art Centre, New Delhi

Print: Art in Print Today,  Galerie 425, Le Cambre, Brussels, Belgium

Impact 9, Museum of Contemporary Art, China Academy of Arts, Hangzhou

Abstract Apartment, Deborah House, London

2014

The Negligent Eye, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool

Against Nature, Camberwell Space, London

2013

The World in a Box: A Bittersweet Salon, Margate

2012

Habit-Forming, and Project Glocal, Art Informal, Vargas Museum, Philippines

Decade, Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco

Doubt, Contemporary Art Space, Riverside, California

Accidental Purpose, for the exhibition Accidentally on Purpose, Quad Gallery, Derby

Picture Tableau Screen, Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury

The Perfect Nude, Wimbledon Space, Wimbledon School of Art, London

2011

A Sort of Night to the Mind, A Kind of Night for Our Thoughts: Illusion and Materiality in Contemporary Painting, Artary Gallery, Stuttgart, Germany

Abject Systems, Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore

Folio, RCA in collaboration with the RSC, Gulbenkian Galleries, Royal College of Art, London

Lubok at the Museum, Kunstmuseum Spendhaus in Reutlingen, Germany

Folio, RCA in collaboration with the RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford

2010

And Then Again, Pavilhao Preto, Museu da Cidade, Lisbon 2010 

Lubok Exhibition, Bongout Gallery, Berlin 2010

Flatland, APT Gallery, London 2010 

2009

Lubok 8 – London Special. Spinnerei, Leipzig

A Sort of Night to the Mind, A Kind of Night for Our Thoughts: Illusion and Materiality in Contemporary Painting, Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury

New Prints from the Royal College of Art, Royal Academy of Art, London

Borderland, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London

Reg Perfect, Portman Gallery, London

2008

Superscope, Lounge/Monika Bobinska, London

Selected Publications 

Studio Tan, Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco, 2017. (Monograph)

The Negligent Eye, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, 2014

In Conversation with Stuart Sutcliffe, Media Junction, 2012

Utopias, National Museum of Singapore, 2011. (Monograph)

A Sort of Night to the Mind, A Kind of Night for Our Thoughts, Arch 402 Gallery/Herbert Read Gallery/Artary Gallery, 2011

And Then Again, Museu da Cidade, Lisbon, 2010

Lubok 8: London Special, Lubok Verlag Leipzig, Germany, 2009

Selected Review Articles

Stuttgarter Zeitung, November, 2011

Financial Times, June 4th 2011

Shotgun Review, June, 2009

Art Monthly, March, 2008

Flash Art, January 2008 

Bob’s collaborations with galleries and institutions have occurred through curatorial projects. These include:

2011: A Sort of Night to the Mind, A Kind of Night for Our Thoughts: Illusion and Materiality in Contemporary Painting. Artary Gallery, Stuttgart (Nov 2011), Arch 402 Gallery, London (April 2011), Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury (Sep 2009) (co-curated with Moyra Derby), funded by the University for the Creative Arts.

2009: A Sort of Night to the Mind, A Kind of Night for Our Thoughts: Illusion and Materiality in Contemporary Painting, Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury (co-curated with Moyra Derby), funded by the University for the Creative Arts.

2007: Hope & Despair, Cell Project Space, London, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and the Arts Council England.

2006: World Gone Mad: Surrealist returns in recent British Art, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester; Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury and Limehouse Arts Foundation, London, supported by the Arts Council England.

2003: Yes! I Am a Long Way From Home: Landscape and Location in Contemporary British Painting, Wolverhampton City Art Gallery; Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland; The Nunnery, London and Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury (co-curated with Roger Kelly), supported by Kent Institute of Art & Design.

2002: Express: Contemporary Printmaking from the Royal College of Art Archive, Gulbenkian Galleries, Royal College of Art; The Study Gallery of Modern Art, Dorset; George Rodger Gallery, Maidstone, and The Bank of America, London.