story+ photographs / Ericka Clevenger
art / courtesy of Matt Doust
I met Matt Doust during his brief visit to Los Angeles a few months back at the Bootleg Theater. We spoke briefly and parted ways. A couple months later at a BBQ in Echo Park, Matt approached me and pulled out a Polaroid picture from his wallet. “Is this you?” he asked. It was in fact me in the picture. It was from
the night that I met him a few months back. The likelihood of us meeting again in such a manner was astonishing. “I guess we were meant to meet again.”
Matt and I kept in touch after the second meeting, and continued to develop both a work and friend relationship. I have continued to be blown away by the philosophic, poetic, and artistic mind of Matthew and am excited for his future as a highly recognized artist in America.
Matt was born in Santa Monica California in 1984, but moved to Australia just as he was taking his first baby steps. He has lived there his entire life, creating memories and a name for himself in the Perth art world. After visiting America last year with his good friend, he decided that Los Angeles would be a place to call home. Matt’s live/work space is a simple loft that overlooks the broken skyline of wholesale clothing and fabric districts in downtown Los Angeles. It is sparsely decorated, almost completely white, full of oil paints and empty whiskey bottles. It is open, inviting and inspiring. You can even smoke inside!
Definitely a rarity in the city of Angels.
Matt is not an artist of small stature. His art is not a past time, nor a meaning to make ends meet. His art is more of a means for survival than food. His dedication to his art has morphed into a lifelong search for meaning and value within it. The way he speaks about his paintings are both inspiring and entertaining. He seems to humanize the humans he paints, bringing them off the canvas and directly into your face. The detail and structure of each piece is created by layers of oil paint which takes many hours of seated devotion. He always takes a photograph of the person he is going to paint, making sure that there is enough light on their faces to expose the shape and colors need for reconstruction. Along with his painting, Matt makes stark, dreamy portrait videos of the subjects he paints. The soft lighting and simple nature of the videos create an honest, and emotional connection with the viewer and the subject.
Matt has no training in any art institution, but privately mentored to learn the different techniques of oil, charcoal, and the use of space. He was also taught proportion mathematics, theories of time, and the ability to language oneself truthfully through instinct. His mentor once told him that he must fall in
order to succeed. “Your parents have high hopes for you….you must fall”. Those words became stepping stones for Matt’s life as he states “I have been falling as a full time art maker for 6 years.
After exhibiting his work extensively in Australia, Matt moved to Los Angeles in late June of 2011. He feels the move is the key element in refreshing his perspective and to further his practice. Matt paints every single day. The mood of his heart and soul, becomes the mood of the people he is portraying. I asked Matt to explain his new art series that he allowed me to capture in his studio.
“My new body of work is based upon indulging in an idea. Adopting ideas for the purpose of hope. Whether it be an individual idea of true love, childhood, religion, or a passion that is open to being pursued. I am exploring what keeps us going. What motivates us to continue. I am also continuously through my practice examining and interpreting the nature of beauty and perception of beauty. I like to think my paintings withhold a pure foundation in expression then disguise, distort or deconstruct the subject in some way.”
Matt is truly a unique artist with a multidimensional mind that allows him to tap into wavelengths and portals beyond the traditional human conditions. His ability to capture the true essence of a person’s personality within his paintings is a talent that sets matt aside from most other artists. My advice? Go buy a Doust!
Here are two of his newest “About Face” Portraits that will survey at Thinkspace Gallery, LA Art Fair, and Picks Of The Harvest in Los Angeles.