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Matthew Priest


Painting is my full-time occupation. I came to painting late (within the past eight years) and am almost entirely self-taught. I bring my training as an architect, a classical musician, and a lover of cities and city culture to my paintings. My goal in painting is to capture beauty for others to share.

My recent work falls into two groups: those with words and those without.

My work using words comes from a personal response to the ugliness following the US elections of November 2016. The first piece used the word PEACE in many languages in hopes of peace in every land. Later works use the words JUSTICE, EQUALITY, and FRAGILE (among others) as starting points. The completed works are meditations on the concept of each word, and thus each piece is distinct in character. Two of these pieces were commissioned as public murals by Ruth’s Table, a community art center in the Mission District continuing Ruth Asawa’s legacy of participatory art.

 My work without words is entirely non-representational these days. I sometimes start by drafting geometry onto the blank canvas using a T-square and compass. More than anything, this gets my hands and mind going, and the marks usually disappear entirely as I paint. While I might have a loose idea about composition or color, this work emerges very intuitively and without a plan. Sometimes, forms will emerge that suggest titles (such as “Eggshell” in this show). Most of the time, though, the title is simply a word selected to honor the unique piece with a unique name.