Photography is more than light, more than pixels, and certainly more than information, it is made of matter, material, place and time. Artist Matthew Brandt is always devising new ways to make all of this clear and inherent in his photographs — large-scale, often fantastically colored and evocatively textured landscapes and portraits — by means of labor-intensive processes from photography’s early days and sometimes physical artifacts of the sites where they were captured. Particularly enamored of the rough-hewn and storied lands of the American West, Brandt seeks to describe and transport the landscape’s histories, damages, and glories through his unique photo-based multimedia language. Light & Matter — a wide-ranging survey of Brandt’s career — is currently on view at Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale.
Matthew Brandt: Llyn Celyn 13, 2016. Chromogenic print soaked in Llyn Celyn water, 20 x 30 in (Courtesy of the Artist)
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
MATTHEW BRANDT: I can’t remember the age, but when I was very young, I gave my mom a portrait of herself reading an Elle magazine. And it made her laugh.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Working at a printing lab in Burbank.
Matthew Brandt: Upper Falls C1M6Y3, 2015. Multi-layered duraclear prints processed with Upper Falls water in LED lightbox frame, 65 1⁄4 x 46 1⁄4 inches (Courtesy of the Artist)
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
Yes, making things was the only thing I was good at and loved to do. Also college tuition was free at the school I attended at the time.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I was born here, and I suppose I’m a simple kind of guy.
When was your first show?
In 2009 at Cardwell Jimmerson Contemporary Art in Culver City; it’s now closed.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
A show at Forest Lawn Museum that closes September 4th.
Matthew Brandt: La Brea D2AB2, 2013. Heliograph, sun cured tar collected from La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, CA, on aluminum, 60 x 88 inches (Courtesy of the Artist)
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
There is often public radio, KCRW, KJAZZ, KDAY etc… playing faintly in the background.
Website and social media handles, please!
Installation view: Light & Matter: The Art of Matthew Brandt, April 21–September 4, 2022 at Forest Lawn Museum
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