Rehgan De Mather – Artist

Rehgan De Mather from Melbourne is currently represented by Cowwarr Art Space (VIC), Jackman Gallery (VIC) & Linton and Kay Contemporary (W.A) and says he has been making art since he was a teen. His website is Rehgan works in Acrylic, spray enamel, oil stick, collage and assemblage and enoys travel and music.


Artist’s statement…
In music, sampling is the process of taking a pre-existing piece of recorded material and reusing it to create something new yet undeniably familiar. It’s a way of cutting and pasting an interesting lyric or break to be born a new in a different context.

Originally born out of necessity, patchwork was a way of making fabric last longer. Once a garment was worn out, it was cut up into patches and sewn together with other pieces of fabric to create a “new” useful item.

A collage, from the French word coller; meaning to stick, is a collection of disparate items combined to create something new. While my practice is primarily painting based, I employ collage and assemblage techniques to create layers of imagery, text and motif.

Much like a musical sample or patchwork fabric, I reuse and recycle previous works and canvas, cutting them up and casting them amongst new landscapes. I refer to these as “contemporary leftovers”, a collection of disjointed stories, themes and ideas sewn together across time and space.

This process is as much about building a personal iconography as it is putting together the pieces of a puzzle. Driven by a desire to create, construct and connect; collage and assemblage allow me join the dots between past work and new ideas.

How do you describe your work?
My work has been described as urban and neo-expressionistic. My work shifts between the graphic and gestural, depending on what form is most appropriate to a particular work. Although my practice is primarily painting based, I incorporate collage and assemblage techniques in my work as well.


Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
My work is a record of both interaction and interpretation of my environment and surroundings. I view myself as a builder, collector and storyteller. Whilst the works often lack a defined narrative there are a sequence of clues; images, text, marks and motif that encourage the viewer to construct their own meaning, interacting with the work and becoming involved in the process itself.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently finishing work on a new series of paintings entitled, Movement Mashes
, in preparation for an upcoming exhibition at Linton and Kay Contemporary in Perth.


What fascinates you?
I enjoy the structure of order and the appearance of chaos…

One word or statement to describe your current works?
Movement Mashes…

Why are you an artist?
I am driven by a desire to create, construct and connect.

How did you get into art?
At age 13 I wanted to be an architect. Later I became more interested in graphic design. When I was 15 I picked up a paint brush and never really looked back…

During my VCE studies I was involved with a youth magazine, Voice, which also held art exhibitions for young emerging artists. This encouraged me to pursue my artistic studies at a tertiary level.


How important is art for you?
Very, it’s how I relate to the world around me.

What is it about Visual Art you find compelling?
The creative challenge.

Did the place where you grew up have an influence?
Growing up in the country (Gippsland) didn’t influence my work a great deal, but it did have a strong impact on my career. I was fortunate enough to have a great support network and mentors in Clive Murray-White and Carolyn Crossley from Cowwarr Art Space, an old butter factory turned into a contemporary art space. Such a place is a rare find indeed, especially in more regional or remote areas, and both Clive and Carolyn were incredibly supportive of my practice and helped foster my development as an artist. I was also offered exhibitions at Gippsland Art Gallery and Latrobe Regional Gallery, which offered me an great opportunity to develop my practice and showcase my work.

What or who inspires your art?
Words, music and mayhem…


What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
I’ve always worked with paint; seemed natural really. Lately I’ve been working with collage, assemblage, bas-relief and some object based work, however my practice is still primarily painting based and very process orientated.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts?
Interesting question in way. My work has changed a great deal since my early efforts, although I would say that the overall aesthetic is still quite similar. I have recently been revisiting older works, using them as collage and elements within new work. It’s a way of reinterpreting previous works, but also connecting past work with new ides.


Have your artistic influences altered over time?
Yes. When I was younger I was quite interested in the work of Jean Michel Basquiat, I enjoyed his gritty aesthetic. Working backwards from Basquiat I quickly became interested in Cy Twoombly and Jean Dubuffet, I enjoy their mark making. After travelling through Europe and the States I became interested in Surrealism and Dada, in particular the work of Schwitters and Miro; I also enjoyed the work of the CoBrA artist’s. Lately I’ve been looking at Klimt and Kandinsky, as well as contemporary artists Alan Glass and Sally Smart.

What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?
I’ve always been a big list-maker. I find words are more of an influence for me in terms of a starting point; images seem to be more of a final product for me. Words>Lists>Sentences>Ideas>Images.

I should probably do more preparatory drawing in my folio, but I tend to work directly onto a canvas, working back and forth between the painting and my folio or notes, problem solving, revising, building and editing as I go.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
I find it difficult to switch of my brain; as such I have plenty of ideas. The challenge for me is which ideas to pursue and resolving them effectively.

How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?
It used to be quite important, but as I have become more confident with my work and processes it has become less and less of a concern. In many ways it helps to be free of a specific vision, as I can move and evolve with the work. I’ve grown to like Dubuffet’s idea that an artist should try to relate their thoughts to what they have done, not the other way around.

Do you have much contact with other artists?
Yes, I am part of a social group/artistic collective called the Dirty Jaded Ravers.

The Dirty Jaded Ravers are a group of individuals who, as the name implies, had an awfully fun time in the Melbourne dance scene at the turn of the century. Facing nearly a decade of bright lights, thumping bass and truly crazy times, many found themselves faced with the decision to bow out gracefully and settle in Caroline Springs or to get involved in the scene they love.

From humble beginnings to random meetings, the Dirty Jaded Ravers have grown to form a large social group active in the arts, music and charity event. Included amongst the impressive group of ex-ravers are some of the scene’s much-loved DJ’s, producers and promoters, as well as established and emerging artists, musicians, graphic designers, photographers, fashion designers and multi-media artists.

Any upcoming or completely new projects you want to talk about?
Upcoming solo exhibition at Linton and Kay Contemporary, Perth. September 18th – October 3rd. Have also been selected as a finalist in the upcoming Black Swan Portrait Prize and the Sunshine Coast Art Prize (currently on).

If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?
Cy Towmbly’s Four Seasons from the Tate Modern in London. It’s my favourite painting, grand, poetic and lyrical. I visited it many times when I was in London.

Have you had any “big breaks” in your career?
I‘ve been a finalist in the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship (twice), City of Whyalla Art Prize, Araluen Art Award, Sunshine Coast Art Prize, Black Swan Portrait Prize, John Leslie Art Prize, and Arc Drawing Prize.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
Yes, I keep a folio of lists, ideas and basic sketches.

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
Some are reworked, others are used as collage or drop cloths in the studio picking up leftover paint and marks.

Musical influences?
Music is very important to me, and my practice. I am always listening to music; in the studio, in the car, when I got to sleep, when I wake and when I go out on the weekends.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
I enjoy giving the viewer some choice(s). I like to encourage them to get involved with the work or interact with it in some way. I think it’s important not to give away everything, but rather entice them in to the work, whether that be through colour, shape, form, pattern, rhythm, image, text or motif. There are repeated images and motifs that have become a part of my personal iconography and ongoing narrative, but many of these narratives are broken, allowing the viewer to construct their own meaning and become involved in the work.

Tell us about your studio environment?
My studio is very busy, but also very organised. I always a have a number of works on the go at once. I tend to tidy everything in the morning and move things around, before sinking my teeth into a particular painting for the day.

Is your work process fast or slow?
Both, depending on what I am working on and what process I am using. A lot of the collage work is quite time consuming with construction, composition and cutting and pasting where as the panting is much more immediate and rapid in terms of application and mark making.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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One Response to “Rehgan De Mather – Artist”

  1. Artist Interview - Rehgan De Mather : ArtStuff on September 21st, 2009 8:46 am

    […] now for an edgy art feast… Here’s an interview by Rehgan De Mather. […]