When acquaintances and students ask Matthew Laurence how he ended up in the field of Art, his response is with one word: ‘glue’. It stems from his father’s occupation, as a purchasing agent to an adhesive company. At the start to each year in elementary school, Matthew’s father would send him to elementary school with a few dozen bottles of glue to present to the teacher to help supply the Arts and Crafts class. Matthew recalled during art lessons the teacher praised him on how wonderful his artwork was developing. Soon after, the teacher would say, “Thank your dad for the glue for this project!”.

At the time, Matthew thought there was an immense talent from all the praise the teacher was giving him. This extra praise from the classroom teacher provided Matthew with a comfort level to explore ideas and pursue directions without being concerned of any constraints. There was a felt peace and lightness within that could only be described as a moving meditation. This visual meditation continues to drive his work to this day.

An opportunity presented itself to Matthew in 1995 when a study abroad program to England was offered a semester before completing his Associates Degree in Arts in the Chicagoland area. Living within and traveling to fourteen countries in Eastern and Western Europe opened Matthew’s worldview and a love of exploration.

In 1998, Matthew attained his BFA and completed the Art Education program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He began his career in Art education teaching darkroom photography and studio art within the Chicago Public School system. Matthew was able to share his love for art with high school students and use his time during summer holidays to travel and expand upon his passion in art in a wide range of media.

In 2004, Matthew decided it was time for a change and relocated to the other side of the world in Singapore to teach Art at United World College Singapore and widen his vision as an artist and art educator. During this period, most of Matthew’s ideas and influences were expanding from travels within Asia, Africa, and Oceania. He also continued to dive deeper into watercolour, acrylic, oil, and mixed media work.

Most of Matthew’s inspiration stems from a wide range of artists and art styles. Artists such as Edward HopperAlphonse MuchaCharles Rennie MackintoshJerry Uelsmann, and Henri Cartier-Bresson are ever present on Matthew’s mind. Hopper’s figures convey the emotive use of isolation, and contradicting this with a harmony within the environment through curvaceous flowing lines of Mucha’s designs. Macintosh’s integrated environments use a multitude of media and materials to juxtaposing subject matter in Uelsmann’s photographs. Continually keeping an eye out for the ‘decisive moment, which make Cartier-Bresson’s photographs so captivating and inspiring. These elements are the structural bases to which Matthew formulates his artwork.    

In addition to living abroad in Singapore, Matthew has returned to Europe to live in Munich, Germany and also Shanghai, China. Matthew fondly recalls his time living in these vibrant cultures, but always had left his heart in Singapore. In 2013, Matthew and his family relocated back to Singapore and are excited to be back in this cultural melting pot that he now calls home.

Currently Matthew is integrating his photographic work with painting and printmaking techniques upon concepts of old verses new and issues on the sustainability of the planet.

-Mandrake Wassle

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