Artists Among Us: Matt Duquette
Matt Duquette is anti-art, yet he creates visually barbaric images that are far more social and artistic than he claims to be. In his realm, art is created for one purpose, to capture an ultimate moment. Working on a textured surface, he has an identifiable, methodical brush or comb stroke that snags the paper or wood grain and creates splatters that add to the motion within the piece.
Most of Duquette's work has a distinct movement and masculinity. He feels that placing a female model in his work would make it too cliché, so he uses himself as a model for the oddities. Duquette has a palpable sense of self involving his own inadequacies and the effect that others have on him. The self-portrait is tense and withdrawn, an intense insight into a past affliction. “Most people look at a self portrait to see how they are painted or if they represent that person on a technical level. I try to get away from that and use the body as a way of expressing emotion, the body itself as a metaphor. Throughout the past couple of years, I have been placed in certain situations in which I had little or no control over the outcome. Posing then only as a spectator, I was rendered helpless with a numbing pain, leaving me crippled or paralyzed. These self-portraits represent the physical reactions to situations,” Matt said.
Beyond his vision of a handicapped self, Matt Duquette has an obsessive fascination with hands. Although all of his images could not be represented in our sideshow, his studio was littered with gestured sketches of hands and limbs. This compulsiveness caught me off guard and abruptly ended my series of pre-written questions because artists will forgo hands in liue of “more important” body parts like faces, abdomens and posture. Matt is a self-proclaimed art snob and so resisted the ideas of traditional, mainstream portraits to forge his own idea of how to effectively depict expression. “I had a professor who told me I couldn’t draw hands, so, out of spite, I was driven to draw them. They are intriguing on a physical level but perhaps more so on a metaphorical plane. I consider hands to be an extension of the heart or the concepts associated with the heart. In many ways, they become as intimate as a portrait. Hands become a more unrecognizable format but somehow still cause a specific reaction.”
The most unabashed paintings certainly stem from one exact moment. Matt attended an influential hardcore show (Buried Alive and All Out War) that changed his attitude and illustration style. Matt realized that music evokes the physical response that he was seeking and that the hardcore type of music scene allowed kids to strike out in a socially acceptable way. Matt began to document that chaos, and painting it became his driving motivation. His style correlates with the beat of the music--loud, restless and ebullient. “I’m so impatient. Sometimes I don’t think I can draw fast enough. I used to sit for hours and do tight renderings. There is no way I can do that now. I like to work fast because I get bored easy and I need to just get it out. I’m not worried about making a nice picture, but about getting the idea or feeling across. I want to dive in and get my hands dirty. I want to continually find a new place to live, mentally. Music and art allow me to do just that.”
Matt Duquette is in essence, a painter of the haunted. His best ideas evolve from dreams and tragic situations. This does seem to clash with the flash animation he constructs at his day job. After only six years in the business, many local companies crave his unique style and have had entire websites molded around one particular animation. “I think that it's extremely hard to sustain a solid career in painting and have no interest in commercial illustration, so I flash animate. I use the computer as another tool and outlet for my creativity; it just helps that it pays better. I still can draw and design all day, which is cool.”
More of Matt Duquette's paintings and computer animation can be found at www.mattduke.com.