Richie's brother Matthew Hawtin is a reputed plastic artist, who designed record sleeves for projects like F.U.S.E., and who's practiced abstract painting. The Mutt gallery in Barcelona is exhibiting his collection “Dimensions”, coinciding with Sónar.
Flying diagonals, neon spirals, abstract lines, and geometric figures floating in space. It's not Malevich's suprematism, nor is it Rothko's expressionism: it's 3-D music, it's the purest electronic music materialised. Matthew Hawtin (Richie's brother, yes) isn't only a DJ and producer: he also uses white canvases to express his particular aesthetic vision, visually (and aurally) soaked in the spirit of 90s Detroit techno, minimalism and gliding ambient. Refined forms and saturated colours on absolute white, in order to conceptually deconstruct the sounds of techno, all under the slogan 'less is more'.
Coinciding with Sónar 2012 (where festival regular Richie Hawtin will play earlier than usual this time, on Friday night at the SónarClub), Barcelona's Mutt gallery (Carrer Comerç, 15, from Monday to Saturday between 11 am and 9 pm) is presenting Matthew Hawtin's first Spanish solo exhibition, “Dimensions”, starting today (the vernissage is until 7 pm), until 19th July, and which was already successful at the Red Gallery in London. Hawtin fans (both Richie's and Matthew's) will recognise the foundations of the legendary record sleeves by F.U.S.E. (Richie's alter ego in the early 90s), and will see a visual history of Matthew's plastic arts. We spoke to the man about his work, his music and his relationship with his brother.
You designed many of Richie's record sleeves, and we would like to know to what extent F.U.S.E. and Plastikman's records have contributed to expanding your art. In other words: is there a direct link between Richie's music and your art?
I did the first F.U.S.E. Sleeves, but I never did any for Plastikman. I never set out to make art for any musical projects, it just happened, and it grew as we were working together. I was looking for my own style in my early works, but “Dimensions” shows that what I was doing in the past and what I'm doing now is pretty similar.
He makes music, you make art and both of you are DJs. What aesthetic do you share?
Less is more.
Your father was involved with electronic music, which helps to understand Richie's interest in techno in his teen years. Where does the interest in art come from for you, given these family influences?
My grandfather was a Sunday painter, not a professional one, so I feel art was already around me. But the most important thing has been that my parents were very liberal, and the let us explore everything, making us into the people that we wanted to become.
Richie has a couple of your paintings in his Berlin apartment. Is he a collector of your work? Has he got part of your work hidden somewhere?
He has a few pieces of mine in Windsor, and there's a couple of 'hidden' works in the studio, which will be used for an exhibition soon, fortunately, when the time is right.
Where can a collector find your work?
I sell most of my work through my website, and the galleries I exhibit at. There are a few loyal collectors, and there are always new people interested in my work. I also do bespoke work, that's always interesting.
“Dimensions” was set up in collaboration with Plus 8 and M_nus. What are the rules to tell the visual history of those labels through the artwork?
We don't work according to any pre-set rules. What you see at the expo is simply what happened to my art in a certain time frame, parallel to what was happening in electronic music. It's always been an organic process of working together.
Do you listen to music while you paint? Which artists and sub-genres (we assume they're electronic) inspire you the most?
I listen to music most of the time in my studio, but it varies: classical piano music, electronica, some pop. It depends on the moment, my mood and what I'm working on that day. While I was working on my most recent pieces, “Torqued Panels”, I was listening to the Daft Punk soundtrack of “Tron” a lot, and Alva Noto's “Xerrox” series.
What would “Dimensions” sound like if we translated it into music? What would be the ideal remix?
I still hear the early stuff by F.U.S.E. When I think of “Dimensions”, but most of all it would be ambient music.
In your work we can appreciate influences from painting, music and even architecture. Who or what inspires you more: Malevich, techno, or Mies van der Rohe?
I don't think one is more important than the other - they've all had their moments - but they are all still important and relevant today, and will continue to be so, and will inspire new people.
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