My name is Matt Cooper. I have as much trouble identifying as an artist as I do identifying as having high-functioning autism. Luckily, I find engaging with one helps me better accept the other.
I have explored many mediums of expression throughout my life, from writing novels, to writing and directing films, and many others too numerous to list here. With most, I found my interest in the art form fade as I started finding success in them. Money, it turned out, sabotaged my ability to use the mediums as a way of coping with my many mental hardships. And there are few things more demoralizing than finding your passions turned against you to become a source of stress when it was once your relief.
Painting is different.
Everything you see before you is a result of two years of experimenting and extrapolating. Like most of my attempts at new art forms, I started out of curiosity whether I could grasp the fundamentals as I understood them. It didn’t take long for people to start commenting on my work, asking if they could pay me to paint something for them.
Thankfully, I’ve learned from my mistakes and am currently balanced in my ability to keep my artwork personal, while also making it viable to effectively pay for itself. And beyond that, I strive to do good with what is left. My partner, Elise, was a strong voice in supporting the healthful attributes of my work, and was willing to take on the burden of the business aspect of the endeavor. She will always be the first to credit me for the paintings you see, so I will do the same of crediting her for the pieces being available here today.
Most of my work lives in a paradox of abstraction and literalness. Most important is the feeling I want to convey. Sometimes even I don’t know what emotion I’m trying to get out, so I have to create on faith that my intention will present itself to me. This can lead to places that remind people of old memories. Places from childhood, times of uncertainty and anxiety, or safety and warmth. It’s common for a painting to immediately make someone think of a place they haven’t seen in years, and won’t know why, since the piece rarely meshes with the reality of the place they’re thinking of. The work almost represents a mental projection of something grander, a literal space made extraordinary through imagination. This can lead to people describing my work as “surreal,” or “dream-like,” even though that feeling is conveyed with fairly literal landscapes.
In terms of my artwork and only my artwork, I hope it conveys a strong sensation to the viewer, whether good or bad. I hope it offers a captured emotion that can be felt anytime the piece is enjoyed. In terms of what I hope my overall work accomplishes, I’d like to be able to show how detached our minds can be from our emotions, and how hard it can be for anyone to accurately express to others their own personal feelings and issues. And ultimately, I hope it can bring about some compassion and empathy in others to help us expand beyond our own experiences to better understand others.