The visual artist (and brother of infamous record label Minus' Richie Hawtin) presents an exhibition that contrasts colours and repetitive layers
After previous collaborations with Bansky, Gavin Turk, the Camberwell and Kingston Colleges of Art, Noriko Okaku, Bo Ningen, Adam Dant, Le Gun, onedotzero, the East End Film Festival and Leon, the hub of creativity and regeneration that is the Shoreditch-based Red Gallery is about to unveil Matthew Hawtin's new 'Dimensions', a visual odyssey on the parallel worlds of art and techno explored through the work the artist produced in conjunction with Plus 8 and Minus Records, the now legendary labels owned by his brother, Richie Hawtin.
Creatively we live parallel lives that intersect at different times, with each marking a specific point in our artistic (and personal) relationship.
Original paintings, prints and sculptures form the exhibition, inspired by futurism, fusing bleeding edges, repetitive layers and contrasting textures. Here, we speak to the artist about how it all began and discover the connective tissue between music and art.
Dazed Digital: Were you and your brother always very close? How did you start working together?
Matthew Hawtin: From an early age Rich and I were very close and I think even more so after we emigrated to Canada with our parents in 1979 and it was just the four of us in a new country. We drifted in our teen years but it was actually a love of music that brought us together when we started listening to house and techno on Detroit radio and began going to Detroit clubs in the late 80s.
We actually never made a conscious decision to work together creatively, it was more an intuitive collaboration from living and travelling together and sharing similar experiences. Creatively we live parallel lives that intersect at different times, with each marking a specific point in our artistic (and personal) relationship.
DD: How did you become interested in art and techno? How do they relate to each other?
Matthew Hawtin: I had already begun my creative path when techno came into my life and quite naturally it became a part of my life through my early experiences of clubbing in Detroit, DJing and working for Plus 8 Records. There are varying degrees of how art and techno relate though for myself it has never been a literal translation to ‘paint’ techno.
My visual work has progressed through different series and styles but overall the main aesthetic concerns and themes have remained constant, and much of the work has been carried along to a soundtrack of electronic music. I think it is in the language of (electronic) music and art that we can find the similarities; repetition, structure, texture, space. I’d like to think that what we hear as music we can see as art, (and vice versa).
DD: Who currently interests you most in these two fields?
Matthew Hawtin: Musically, Carston Nicoloi makes some great music AND art; his is always an interesting mix of ideas. The Canadian painter, John Kissick does interesting work that relates to popular culture and is ‘musical’ in a sense. I enjoy the level of craft that is embedded in their work and the attention to detail, an element that is missing from a lot of art and music nowadays. Historically, I still enjoy the Abstract Expressionists, along with some Donald Judd and Mies van de Rohe to keep things clean.
DD: Tell us more about 'Dimensions'. What is your point of view as an artist, what is the message you are trying to convey?
Matthew Hawtin: ‘Dimensions’ is an overview of my artistic output in terms of its connection to Plus 8 Records and Minus. I see it as the different dimensions, metaphorically and physically, that my work has taken over the years. In a sense it shows a visual history of the labels and the music that has been released, many of which were important to the direction of electronic music.
Each piece is more a formal study of art and the making of art and my place in life at that moment. My work has progressed quite naturally over the years and can be understood best in the context of each series, perhaps similar to how an album encapsulates where a particular band might be in their timeline. The work is quite silent in nature but I’d like to think that there are sounds out there that can describe what I do visually.
DD: What's next for you?
Matthew Hawtin: Visually, I am currently working on new pieces for the Torqued Panels series, two of which are included in the ‘Dimensions’ exhibition. The plan is to have a larger exhibition of the work later this year in Detroit and Berlin. Musically, I’m working on a new album of original music though this is a challenge for me technically as I’m not as electronically savvy as my brother. I’m certainly more analogue than digital. In the past I’ve tried to maintain a division between creative outputs but recently I’ve noticed that things are blending together and merging, which I think should help me produce some interesting work in the coming years.
Matthew Hawtin: 'Dimensions': 3rd - 26th February at Red Gallery, 3 Rivington Street, EC2A 3DT + Music event with Gaiser presenting VOID alongside Red Gallery's resident DJ Charlotte Michelle 11th and Claus Voigtmann (Toi.Toi.Musik) on the 24th of February