Matt Jukes’ monoprints were initially created as an antidote to the hectic life of London. The Australian born artist uses these works to escape back to his halcyon days of youth in the sunny, stress-free environment down under. Above the Sky is a beautiful example of this work and there is already a buzz around it in anticipation of its auction as part of Far From the Madding Crowd on 15 February. But we convinced him to step away from printing for a moment and chat through his work.
Matt, your monoprints are stunning but many of our readers are new to the art world. Without giving away too many trade secrets, can you explain how your works are created?
Because of the scale which I work, many people confuse my monoprints with screen prints. I create my monoprints on a 200-year-old, flatbed lithographic press. I don’t make a plate, but ink up the bed of the press, then proceed to make my marks with rags and paper, before transferring it on to the paper. I will then repeat this process over and over again, building up intersecting layers, and stripping of ink off the paper, to create textures. This leaves me with unique works on paper which are closer to painting that screen printing.
Matt Jukes, Above the sky (one monoprint from the diptych), Estimate: £400-600
That sounds like an intense process and must take a lot of concentration and patience. Speaking of which, as you know, this exhibition and auction is all about escapism and recognising that pictures can help us find that quiet space of our own. But we know that this is true of many artforms including music. What music do you have playing in your headphones or studio when you need to step back from the world for a bit? What is your escapism tune?
Music is very important to me, and there is always music playing in the studio or in my head. In fact, as I developed my visual language for my landscapes, they actually started off as me painting sound waves. If I had to narrow down the soundtrack to my work it would have to be “Wide Open Road” by The Triffids, this is a song drenched in longing for the horizon.
What a great tune. A windows-down, full blast, drive into the sunset song. Nice.
You mention you use your artworks to escape back to Australia from the madness of London, tell us more about that. Is it the creative process or is it the visual escape? And is there any other influence on your work?
The escapism of my work comes from disconnecting my hands from my head and letting the press make some of the decisions for me. This release of my head lets my hands surrender some controls of the artist's mark. This is a release and meditative approach creates calming images that are a quiet moment in the constant barrage of this city.
What a lovely image and I think inspiration for us all. Going broader than the influence on your subject matter, are there any artists either today or from art history that inspires you and influence your work?
I find inspiration in so many pieces of art, from Rothko to My Bloody Valentine, but it’s always art which looks simple from a distance, but when you step forward you can lose yourself in the details.
Matt Jukes, Above the sky (the other monoprint from the diptych), Estimate: £400-600
Thinking of other artists, aside from yours (of course!) what is your favourite work in the auction? Which one would you, or will you, be bidding on?
There are so many great artists in this auction, I’ve been a big fan of Nadia Attura’s (see lot 8 and lot 36) work for a long time, so maybe it’s time to bring one of her great photographs home with me.
Fingers crossed! All you need to do is wave at the auctioneer and your dreams might come true. So what is next with your art? And how can our readers stay up-to-date?
My latest work can always be found on my Instagram @mattjukes. I sometimes even post work in progress and my inspiration. There is also an email newsletter on my website mattjukes.ink
And finally, there are currently 800 million Instagrammers snapping away out there today but what is your favourite Instagram account to follow?
There are too many great artists to follow, but my current favourite three to get you started are: @vhils @official_morley and @renecarlos_1
Wow – what a saucy note to end on.
Thank you Matt Jukes – good luck in the auction!