Juxtapoz Magazine – Matt Bollinger: The Realist of Fantasy



Wow, okay, damn. And where was this? 

Kansas City, Missouri. ​​It was a big deal when I was growing up because he had massive scars all over his body and he’d had two open heart surgeries. Anyway, he was just always being operated on. He was 20 when it happened, so it was like, “Whoa, this is something I want to document.” He was driving this brand new 1970 Z28 Camaro at the time of the stabbing, so that car keeps appearing in my work. Anyway, I recorded this interview and it became a superstructure, this narrative that my work was filling out. I made a 17-foot drawing of the setting and there was a sculpture with sound that played with the drawing. So, it was a talking drawing or something, actually anticipating how the animation would work, in a way. 


This is a very long answer, but the work comes about through observation, documentary research and memory. Fiction and drawing, for me, are really linked up, and it becomes a way of adhering together different experiences to make a structure that could then exist in the work.


You mentioned, as a kid, being sent off to your room, where you would draw and create these fantasy worlds with drawing. Do you think you’re painting fantasy worlds now?

I think it occupies the same part of my imagination. It’s a brain space that composites together lots of different experiences and things are alive in there. It doesn’t feel like a memory. That’s where the fictionalization process is. It’s a catalyst that activates all those different ingredients that get put in there. Yeah, it feels the same. I was always being kind of accused of excessive daydreaming. I think it really annoyed my dad because I would just make some mistake in the real world because it was like I could barely see out of my eyes because I was looking… they were turned around backwards.


I think it’s in the Furlough series, which I love, there is a painting of men around the pickup truck. And to me, it’s the most real scene, but it’s also this beautiful, fuzzy memory of a place. It’s such beautiful realism and a fantasy, as well. I love the way you balance that.

I think it’s because the paintings get made by me doing a lot of sketching. Then I start them abstractly with just paint, so the process is a little bit like setting an intention before you do some meditation. I know I want to paint that image of a tiny, three inch drawing that I have right before me, but then I have to look into the painting to have that image be kind of revealed to me. So, in that act of painting, I’m always looking deeper and deeper into the painting and I look less and less outside of it.


At the beginning of the process, I’m doing this abstract stuff, but then I start to build the image. I had drawings of the truck and drawings of some of the individual men’s faces, as well as drawings of a boot, just so I know what the stuff was; but then I look less and less at that and more and more into the work, which is where it probably starts to take on that slightly fantasy look. It’s a parallel world that closely resembles ours.



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