Collage Surrealist Matt Forderer – What’s New

With his surrealist collage works, artist Matt Forderer says, “I am not trying to convey a specific message, rather I am just trying to establish balance, to set the viewer at ease and encourage new thinking and contemplation… mind expansion.” In this installment of “What’s New,” our executive producer Barbarella Fokos checks in with Matt to see what he’s been working on since he was featured on Art Pulse TV.

Matt Forderer in front of one of his surrealist collages
Matt Forderer in front of one of his surrealist collages

First, watch the segment, in which Matthew Forderer divulges some secrets to his process and choices, including his repeated usage of birds and fish in his pieces, and how, with “madly strange” images portrayed in muted palettes, he is inviting viewers to participate by opening their minds and taking a visual vacation. Then enjoy the Q&A discussion below.

(Segment Credits: Executive Producer Barbarella Fokos, Director David Fokos, Segment Director Thierry Denis – Helium Films USA, Segment Producers Jason Page and Thierry Denis, Cinematographer Thierry Denis, Editor Lenny Castaneda, Music The Long Goodbye by Flatwound, Never Heard A Rhyme Like This Before by Scottaltham)


BF: What are some of the more exciting projects you’ve worked on since we filmed you?

MF:  I am very excited about some of the mural work I’ve been fortunate enough to get into, you just never know who you might meet that might be very important in your life in the future. Close to 20 years ago I met Matthew Ellis, a local architect, who was just beginning, and showed work in a space he had. Now he runs Blue Motif Architecture, and has turned his focus to Interiors, and he gave me an opportunity to use one of my digital collages to be made into a 10 x 20′ wall in a Bio Tech Building. This was well received and led to two more large jobs (totaling some 20 walls).

For my recent piece at the Alexandria at Torrey Pines Science Center, which includes Farmer & The Seahorse restaurant, I was able to use a macro photo I shot of shredded paper on one wall. A falcon I painted about 20 years ago became a larger than life , a 12′ Falcon. Two of my collages, were made into giant walls, and I got to design a 60′ x 8 ‘ mural for a Banquet room! Working on the 60’ mural that wrapped around the Banquet room, that was great, because I was able to kind of make a fantasy reef, with bubbles floating around, and I took loads of pictures of succulent blooms that later I incorporated in the foreground of the reef, with flowers coming out.

Mural at Alexandria at Torrey Pines Science Center

Mid-job, the restaurant changed from Green Acre 3 to Farmer & The Seahorse, and I was asked to incorporate something to do with the new name… so it was just perfect, as I found some pictures of a metallic seahorse, a piece of art, and was able to have them floating all over my reef.  I am over the moon with all of this and it is continuing!  Besides working on my 2nd and 3rd Crack Shack restaurant, another local designer Don Hollis, of Hollis Brand Culture, saw the work at Alexandria Science Center and recruited me to work on the exterior of a building in Mission Beach at Belmont Park, called Escapology.  This was very exciting, because I have spent some time working with turn of the century images in my collages and that is what was called for, so I got to include a character that I created where a Camera Headed Man tips his Top Hat among other images, this was really in my wheel house, and I am very happy with the result there.

Escapology Mural, in collaboration with Hollis Brand Culture
Escapology Mural, in collaboration with Hollis Brand Culture

On the Escapology job, words I was to think about were “steam punk” and modes of transportation, since I had a horizon line wrapping around the building, going out to sea, I was able to create kind of a race, which was a lot of fun. I got to invent hot air balloons, sometimes using a fish as the balloon. I also had trains,  old-time sailboats, etc., all racing around the building.  Also adding patterns, hidden within, which is kind of a trademark of the digital works I’ve been doing.

BF: In what ways has your work changed since we filmed you?

MF:  I don’t know that it has really changed too much as I have been working on painting collages that I have made, using the collage as a blueprint, so in this way, I am scaling up pieces from my collage archive and stuck in time.  I continue to carve into new territory with digital works, which often starts with Macro Photography, and then I inhabit those close up scapes with strangeness, and galactic, kind of psychedelic content.

BF: From the images on your site, it seems you’ve started to use more vibrant colors. When we filmed you, you were focused on a more muted palette. Why this change?

MF:  I had a few bits of collage material that attracted me, such as the piece from “Birds over Beijing,” which was almost neon, that collage was kind of a rare “bright” one for me, and was used for a wall mural.  My recent method for scaling up collages into paintings sometimes, I tend to get to bright…try as I may, I alway like the collage more, and prefer the muted tones, I think it’s easier on the eyes.  The closest I’ve gotten so far to scaling up a collage that I am happy with is, “Southwest Scene with Butterfly Wing.”  That piece sold at my August show at basilIE CM Curatorial in Barrio Logan.

"Birds Over Beijing," collage by Matt Forderer
“Birds Over Beijing,” collage by Matt Forderer

BF: What are some memorable reactions people have had to your recent work?

MF: I honestly can’t think of a specific reaction but people seem to really be enjoying the work, it’s a bit all over the place. I think people just delight in strangeness, as long as it’s presented in a pleasing way through color and composition.

"Rooster-Abbey Road," in collaboration with Blue Motif Architecture at Crack Shack
“Rooster-Abbey Road,” in collaboration with Blue Motif Architecture at Crack Shack

BF: Please describe what you’re working on now.

MF:  I have been taking a slight break from art making, a recent painting “Fish and Birds 2” was quite challenging, I believe I am going to go back at collage very soon. I’ve been thinking of spending some energy with black and white collage again , which was my first foray into collage.

"Fish and Birds"
“Fish and Birds”

I also am wanting to move towards more kind of invented botany and less vertebrates, but we’ll see. I am also working on two Crack Shack restaurants, the owner suggested the Beatles Abbey Road with Rooster Heads, for the Kettner location, I have suggested carrying this to future restaurants, so one coming in Encinitas and one in Costa Mesa where I’ll take those Rooster/Beatles to the streets around those restaurants, also the Encinitas spot, I have been asked to make some funny works, like transform the famous “American Gothic” painting, the one where the man has the pitchfork , except replace the heads with chicken heads, I also get the chance to add my bits of psychedelia, as the man’s suit will be outer space, I am also “Chicken-izing” that famous painting of Dogs playing Poker.”

BF: As you’ve worked on both large and small scale projects, what is the biggest difference between them, aside from the size?

MF: I really think that if a composition works small it will work big. The mural that work best are ones that have a lot of depth.

BF: Some of the work you do is commission. In what ways do your commission pieces and personal pieces most differ? In what ways are they most similar?

MF:  I am lucky that when I am commissioned I am mostly being hired to do what I do, so a lot of my personal works have been used on walls. The Crack Shack work, I’m working with existing images, so I am kind of a hired Photoshop gun, but I always get to add my 2 cents.

BF: Where can people go to see your work?

MF: Belmont Park, Mission Beach, right by the roller coaster, Escapology, The Crack Shack Restaurant in Little Italy on Kettner, UCSD’s Medical Research building at Campus Point, Green Acres restaurants 1 & 2, and Farmer & The Seahorse restaurant, which is near the Torrey Pines lodge. My web site. Many artists just post current work, but I post a real archive — collages add up as do digital works, so I have close to 400 images on my site.

BF: What is your dream project? Or something you’re planning to work on in the future?

MF: Getting out of the country with the mural work.  The mural work I do combines collage, painting, photography, and is all assembled digitally. Since I am not actually painting on a wall, files could be transferred, and I could work on projects abroad from my home studio.


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