The Hands Up Foundation Fundraiser Curated by Cramer & Bell

20 MARCH 2023 - 31 MARCH 2023
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72. Johnny Dewe Mathews


Giclee on museum rag paper
60 x 70cm
This work is number 5 of an edition of 10.


£400 - 600

This auction has now ended

The Hands Up Foundation Fundraiser Curated by Cramer & Bell (72/72)


There is a tendency to simplify as an artist grows older, though this does not mean severing ties with nature. As Picasso recognised: “Whether he likes it or not, man is an instrument of nature… It is pretty much in our interest to be on good terms with it.” 

From his landscapes to his paintings of chefs, musicians and dancers in action, Johnny Dewe Mathews’s work has always been rooted in nature. Among contemporary painters he stands out for his apparently effortless mastery of the human figure in motion. His figurative paintings are full of movement and colour, and he has started exploring ways of distilling these. 

Two years ago he began to experiment with superimposing swirls of transparent colour onto large oil compositions of dancers and musicians, providing an abstract musical counterpoint to the figures’ motion. In his new series of cut-outs, the figures have merged with the swirls, In one early example, Quintet, the interlacing paper forms were collaged over an existing painting of musicians; when future conservators apply x-radiography to this canvas, they’ll find the band playing on below. 

Like Matisse, Dewe Mathews cuts his forms from sheets of hand-painted paper, un like Matisse, he applies the colour in transparent strokes that lend a diaphanous glow to his greens, blues, pinks and yellows. When reproduced as giclée prints, the images acquire a mysteriously layered quality, their multi-coloured forms appearing to inter 

weave in space. They invite us to take the advice of Kandinsky: “Lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting, and… stop thinking! Just ask yourself whether the work has enabled you to ‘walk about’ in a hitherto unknown world. If the answer is yes, what more do you want?” 

Laura Gascoigne

‘The drawings of Johnny Dewe Mathews are the work of eye and hand at the instant of seeing. At once participant and observer, his intensity of attention defines the nature of his engagement. Each drawing imagines an immediate and transitory reality, a momentary event in a real place. He writes, in what seems a contradiction, that he is ‘a fabricator of actualities’; but fabricating actuality’ is, of course, a perfect description of perception: what is actual is what we make of what the world offers. Johnny’s drawings delight in evanescence: they do not try to make the world hold still or cohere. They are not drawings of things so much as drawings of being with and part of things. They catch at, without fixing, objects and events at the living moment. They match quickness of apprehension by spontaneity of gesture. They imagine the world through the movement of the hand.’ - Mel Gooding 

Artist website
Artist Instagram

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