MATT SHANE

Curriculum Vitae

My drawings and paintings are full of collisions and oppositions. Binary forces of construction and destruction; nature and civilization; expansion and recession; black and white, all clash and fuse on the canvas. They are landscapes of conflict, but there is an intuitive balance to their compositions. I play with the kinetic forces of all my painted elements until I feel this balance is achieved.

My inspiration, like my source imagery, comes from diverse places. I traveled overland across Asia while I was a teenager, and there I was introduced to traditional Chinese landscape painting, which left a recognizable mark on my work’s sense of perspective. After completing my undergrad, I moved to Istanbul for six months. This city, which was once the centre of the world’s largest empire, is now a land of intense architectural mash-up. What I saw and experienced there changed my conceptions of how architecture and landscape can grow and transform.

My most recent work is centered on the idea of ‘Frontier’. My fascination with this subject can be sourced back to where I was born and raised, in the suburban town of Tsawwassen, BC. The suburbs are a modern frontier-land between city and country. Much of the same vernacular that was used to cull Eastern settlers across the prairies in early America is now employed to sell fresh housing developments around my hometown. Although the official ‘frontier line’ no longer exists in North America, its presence lives on in much of our language. I would posit that our belief in an ever-expanding frontier is one of the major forces shaping the North American character.

Built into the idea of frontier is a sense of limitlessness: As the frontier line advances, the land of obscurity recedes. This seems like a simple equation, but it leads to many pitfalls, because, of course, most things in life aren’t limitless. Resources do run out, and Markets run dry. Our socio-economic structures are set up in a way that requires an ever-advancing frontier line in order to maintain our current standard of living. History has proven time and again, that with this faithful march comes great destruction—to the environment, to indigenous peoples, to other species, and to ourselves. The frontier is a vanishing point.