Matthew Felix Sun
What is art about? More precisely, what are my paintings about? I have struggled with this question ever since I started to paint. Having copied famous artists' work, made many still life and figure studies, and having painted for the simple sensual thrill of presenting beauty or ugliness, I am left with the certainty that art is much broader and deeper than these technical accomplishments. For me, art is incomplete if it does not transcend simple depiction of life, and enter the realms of the historian and the social commentator.
The intricate involvement with life, the sub-textual social criticism — unpolluted by propaganda — that is evident in the work of artists such as Matthias Grünewald, Albrecht Dürer, Francisco Goya, Max Beckmann, and Käthe Kollwitz has begun to teach me how to connect myself, as an artist, to the world; and, most importantly, how to perform my duty to society as an artist, to refract the world through the expression of my feelings.
As a society, I wonder whether we have lost track of the human spirit. We live in a privileged time and place, with abundant materials to consume. We are blessed with scientific understanding of the physical universe and we have been able to plant our national flag in the virgin soil of the moon. But have we built the world we ought to live in? As an artist and a human being I have serious doubts. Can we truly be meant to be the masters of the earth, if reckless consumption, pollution, and mass extinction are the result of our mastery? Will we destroy our own civilizations through irresponsible selfishness? Will our extinction follow those of whales, tigers, foxes, and dragonflies?
I have been building an Apocalypse Series of paintings and drawings since the US was poised to invade Iraq in 2003, and the series has continued to grow as conditions show no sign of resolving. Growing up in China's repressive culture and atmosphere formed the foundation of my worldview and my work. Though pessimistic, I engage through my art in the human struggle against fate.
Life is a harsh experience, yet beautiful. My goal is to discover the truth in life, and to portray those hidden aspects boldly, without losing the beauty that is seen. To merely document surfaces is not enough: I want to grasp what is behind, which to me is far more compelling and worthwhile.
- "Ink and Watercolor Lilies", "Rafting", and "Stairwell" were finally published by Owen Wister Review, Issue 2015
- "Ink Drawing Night City 3" and "July Meteors" – Shark Reef Magazine, Winter 2015
- "Surveying" and "Wildflowers" – Pomona Valley Review, Issue 8, May 2014
- "Literature Inspired Paintings" - Superstition Review, May 2014
- "Leisurely" and "White Dresses" - Wilde Magazine, Issue 3, July 2013
- "Liberation Road", Artist Portfolio Magazine - Issue 11, June 2013
- "Pilgrim" and "Pond" - Wilde Magazine, Issue 2, May 2013
- "Boulevard", "Lone Traveler" and "Stringed White Dresses - An Installation" - Pomona Valley Review, Issue 7, April 2013
- "Awakening", "Dissonance", "Division", and "House of Hope" - Superstition Review, Issue 11, April 2013
- "Bombed Bridge, III" - Artist Portfolio Magazine - Issue 9, January 2013
- "In Distant Country" - Artist Portfolio Magazine - Anniversary Issue, Issue 6, April 2012
- "The Song of Orpheus" - Artist Portfolio Magazine, Cover II Art Contest 2011, Issue 2, June 2011
- "Sisyphus" – cover art for Epistemologies of Ignorance in Education, published by Information Age Publishing
- "Red Flowers", "Flowers in Blue Vase", "Flowers in Blue Vase, II", "Winter Flowers", "Gladioli", "Lotus", and "Magnolia" – Sychronized Chaos Webzine, March 2010
- "Minotaur", "Daphne", "Sisyphus", "Adam & Eve", "Annunciation", "Jingwei Filling Up the Sea", "Nüwa Creating Humans", "Nüwa Patching Up the Sky" – Sychronized Chaos Webzine, November 2009
- "Blindness", "Devils' Dance", "Dirge", "Falling", "Grandma", "Net", "Diptych - Sorrow and Suffering",
"Progression", and "The Triumph of Saint George" – Sychronized Chaos Webzine, October 2009
- “Branches” and “Upstream” – The William and Mary Review - Volume 47, 2009, The College of William and Mary
- “Room with a Lamp” – The William and Mary Review - Volume 46, 2008, The College of William and Mary
- “A Young Frenchman” – The William and Mary Review - Volume 45, 2007
- “Birds and Men”, “Devils' Dance” and “The Triumph of Saint George" – The Amistad - Spring 2007, Howard University in Washington, D.C.
- “Frenchman” – The William and Mary Review - Volume 44, 2006
- “Drifting” – The William and Mary Review - Volume 43, 2005
2nd 2017 ArtSlant Showcase Award Winner for "Stairwell" - Jurors: Lior Zalmanson, a writer, new media artist, curator and researcher; Meghan Gordon, a Los Angeles-based artist who creates unusual exhibition contexts in order to foster short, but intensive working relationships with other artists, resulting in hybrid projects with complicated authorship; Theresa Ganz, ArtSlant Prize 2015 Winner
5th 2016 ArtSlant Showcase Award Winner for "The March of Time" - Jurors: Thorsten Albertz, a partner at Albertz Benda in New York, and Sibylle Friche, Director at DOCUMENT, a commercial gallery located in Chicago that specializes in contemporary photography, film and media based art
6th 2015 ArtSlant Showcase Award Winner for "Crow" - Jurors: Mark Beasley, a British curator and writer based in New York; Óscar Florit, Director of L21 Gallery, Palma, and Madrid, Spain; Bob and Roberta Smith, the British artist whose best known works include: ~ Make Art Not War, which belongs to the Tate collection; and Letter to Michael Gove.
3rd 2015 ArtSlant Showcase Award Winner for "Niobe" - Jurors: Catherine Wagley, writer of art and visual culture in Los Angeles, Edra Soto, a Chicago-based artist, and Jacqueline Ferrante, a painter and photographer, and the Associate Director of A.I.R. Gallery
2nd 2015 ArtSlant Showcase Winner for "July Meteors" - Jurors: Cara Zimmerman, Associate Vice President and Specialist in Folk and Outsider Art at Christie's, Kristin Hjellegjerde, gallery owner in south west London, and Irene de Craen is currently artistic director at Hotel Maria Kapel
1st 2015 ArtSlant Showcase Winner for "Mackerel" - Jurors: Eric Shiner, Director of The Andy Warhol Museum, Zachary Cahill, an interdisciplinary artist, and Megan Fizell, a Sydney-based writer and curator
5th 2014 ArtSlant Showcase Winner for "The Innocents - Dedicated to the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17" - Jurors: Carolina Jayaram, Summer Guthery, and Raz Shapira-Fainburg
7th 2013 ArtSlant Showcase Winner for "White Dresses" - Juroros: Maria Jenson, founding director of ArtPadSF, which launched in May 2011 at the Phoenix Hotel, San Francisco; Bea de Souza, founder/ director of the Agency Gallery in London; Daniela Kostova, an interdisciplinary artist who works with photography, video, performance and installation.
5th 2013 ArtSlant Showcase Winner for "Diptych - Dawn" - Juroros: Darren Jones - Artist, Writer, Curator, New York Neysa Page-Lieberman - Director & Curator in the Department of Exhibition and Performance Spaces, Columbia College, Chicago Deb Klowden Mann - Gallery KM, Los Angeles
4th 2013 ArtSlant Showcase Winner for "Stringed White Dresses - An Installation" - Jennie Lamensdorf is director of the Time Equities Inc. Art-in-Buildings Program in New York, NY; Robin Peckham, an independent curator based in Hong Kong with a focus on private collections.; and Cole Harrell is a curator, art historian, and proud collector.
5th 2012 Showcase Winner for "Ink Drawing Night City 3" - ArtSlant, Juroros: Sarah Belden,founder of Sarah Belden Fine Art Advisory; HELIANTHE BOURDEAUX-MAURIN, exhibitions manager at Pinacothèque de Paris; and CJ FOLLINI, co-chairperson of the Board of Directors of HERE Arts Center in SoHo
First 2011 Showcase Winner for "Dispersion" - ArtSlant, Juroros: Julie Davidow, ArtSlant Golden Frame artist; Walter Mason, Curator, Haggerty Museum of Art; and Hillary Metz, Director, Blythe Projects, Los Angeles
Second 2010 Showcase Winner for "Grandma" - ArtSlant, Juroros: Els Barents, Director, Huis Marseille Museum for Photography, Amsterdam; Snoozie Hexagon, Director/Curator, Elevator Gallery, London; Michelle Heinz, Director, Frederico Sève Gallery/latincollector, New York; Joey Piziali and Vanessa Blaikie, Co-Owners/Directors, Ping Pong Gallery, San Francisco; Carole A. Stakenas, Executive Director, LACE, Los Angeles
Juried Shows and Competitions
See "EXHIBITIONS & EVENTS" below.
- “A Modern Approach to Landscape Painting” – Amsterdam Art, Berkeley, California, December 2001
Cincinnati Art Academy, Cincinnati, Ohio, classes in fine and commercial art, 1996-97
Private Instructions on Oil Painting with Lilia Obrath, 1996, & Roland Huston, 1995