Matthew Askey occupies a rather unique place among British Artists. Not only does he draw and paint, play the saxophone and curate exhibitions, he is also an ordained priest and chaplain. It is his role in the church that inspires and informs his work as an artist/painter. Matthew makes paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture and sees making and sharing art as an integral part of his prayer life, being particularly engaged with the self-portrait in an extended series of daily drawings now nearing 900.
In this solo show for New Art Projects he has focussed only on Self Portrait drawings and paintings. A key part of this work is the ‘Daily Selfie’ drawing. These daily drawings are made ‘live’ from looking into a circular bronze mirror and the resulting works are the same size as the mirror and are analogous to a diary our journal. In these works he often wears costumes that represent a part of his spiritual journey, using contemporary imagery such as that of superheroes. In his “spider man” series he appears as Thomas the Apostle, and in another as St Philip The Apostle he appears as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. As St Paul he is seen wearing a false beard or with his face distorted by Sellotape. He says “my aim is to ask questions rather than try to answer them; sometimes the question is enough and stands as it is, I hope then to bring something of my hidden inner-life out into the shared space of the paper or painted space.”
Matthew’s work questions and faces truth in its relentless self-examination. It explores his current state, both visually, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. However, it also draws upon bigger themes, such as a shared/universal experience of life and the tragi-comic state of being human.
Matthew Askey, Self-Portrait as St Bartholomew/Spider-Man (after Michelangelo), 2019, egg-tempera on medite panel, 20cm diameter.