Hugo Mathias is a New Zealand contemporary artist, usually based in Melbourne, Australia. Most recently he is working abroad in Thailand as apart of an exciting Artist Residency. Primarily working with paint on canvas his paintings explore the narrative surrounding the connections we have with consumer products, and the role they play in shaping both personal and national identities. Mathias utilizes a broad range of mediums but specializes predominantly in oil and acrylic paints.
His style is realistic yet painterly, full of colour and perfect tone. The subject matters are iconic, reminding viewers of their own connections with products they consume everyday. The result is a vibrant pop style which engages audiences far and wide.
This residency has drawn Mathias eye to new aspects of consumerism, commodity and visual metaphors. As he explains: “My work hints at ideas around the effects of this practise, such as global trade, capital, monopoly, mass production, exploitation, consumerism, sustainability, and environment”. His experience of living, studying and working within such a dynamic location has informed his palette, compositions, and of course subject matter.
“I initially noticed the paint used on houses and public buildings here. They are geometric shapes made of concrete, but they are painted in pastel pinks and greens. I think it’s a contrast from the mostly grey architecture in Australia’s cities, giving a sense of joy in the most mundane of places.”
“I also noticed here many potted rubber plants placed inside rubber tyres to keep them from falling over. Rubber is Thailand’s main export, and I am interested in this visual metaphor. It is the natural resource and the finished product in one place – the cause and effect.”
The residency saw Mathias based at Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi (RMUTT). The University is located in the far North of Bangkok, where he delivered a series of lectures and will partake in two separate exhibitions.
The first exhibition is hosted by Offbeat Box Gallery in Bangkok Central, to be opened by respected Thai artist Attasit Pokpong. Offbeat Box is a newly founded creative venue distinguishing itself from the common art space by offering 2 unique showrooms in a lofted container gallery at the crossroads of the vibrant and busy LadPhrao district in Northern Bangkok. The second exhibition will be at The Queen’s Gallery and officially opened by Queen Sirikit herself.
The Queen’s Gallery was established during 2003 from the initiation of Her Majesty the Queen Sirikit aiming to celebrate Thai artists. While Hugo has exhibited his work in New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Thailand and Japan, and has two of his pieces residing in the James Wallace Arts Trust collection (NZ), it is a unique opportunity and great honour for Mathias to be part of these exhibitions.
Hugo has exhibited his work in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan, with two of his pieces residing in the James Wallace Arts Trust collection in New Zealand, and one piece in the Haengchon Art Museum collection in South Korea. He received a Bachelor of Design in 2011 from Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand.
NOTE: Some of the exhibitions mentioned in this article are subject to change due to current COVID-19 restrictions in Thailand.