Despite being a relatively recent addition to the growing art circuit, 33-year-old Jadon Matthews has already amassed an impressive reputation as a skilled artist, entrepreneur and is one of the many young creatives credited with this country’s art renaissance.
However, what distinguishes Matthews from his peers are his unique eye for beauty in everyday life and his uncanny ability to recreate images and scenes with flawless accuracy. Combining broad strokes, he has become a staple among local expressionist artists.
Sunday Newsday spoke with Matthews to find out more about his artistic techniques, motivation and his expectations for the future in TT’s changing artistic landscape.
“Its much more than a blank canvas, there’s something beneath the surface waiting to come out and be seen, but to me its not so much about the finished product as it is about the creative process itself.” Born in Mayaro, Matthews began his art career sketching scenes from his everyday life in rural Trinidad and eventually progressed to portraits of his schoolmates.
“I was never trained academically in art. It was just something I happened to be good at, I remember one particular portrait I did on a girl in my class in primary school and the teachers were shocked that I could recreate something like that so they called in my parents to discuss my potential.”
Matthews has been displaying his pieces since the age of 15 and sold his first piece shortly after, to a Colombian tourist who was struck with the detail of the portrait, during an exhibition at the Upper Room Art Gallery in Mt St Benedict. The sale of that piece, which was titled the Reggae King launched Matthews’ professional career as an artist and motivated him to continue.
He merges broad and fine strokes to create nostalgia-inducing snapshots of life in rural Trinidad with such clarity that it places the viewer in the portrait. His work has been displayed throughout TT and has earned him first place at the prestigious Atlanta/Port of Spain Sister City Art Competition in 2000 and 2001.
Despite his prowess as a visual artist, Matthews has also channeled his creative energy into fashion with the launch of his Zano Hasani clothing line, which has garnered some modest success locally as well as regionally.
“Its just a strong appreciation of the challenge of trying to create, using a material there’s a certain level of accomplishment to be had from going from a blank canvas to the finished product.”
Matthews explains while his career choice as an artist was met with some apprehension by loved ones, they soon accepted his craft as more than a hobby when they saw his ability and shrewd business sense.
“My parents wanted me to become a doctor and they really pushed for it. Like a lot of parents at the time and even today, they weren’t very accepting of me wanting to become an artist, but I’ve managed to carve out a nice spot for myself in Trinidad and they saw that this is something I haven’t given up on.”
Due to the changing economic climate, Matthews says fewer people are willing to spend top dollar on original artwork. However, he believes that such a change may actually be what the creative community needs to get back on track.
“When you look at all of these creative movements and resurgences in history it was always birthed from poverty and hard-times so to speak. The Italian renaissance for instance came after Europe’s dark ages and we remember it for some of the most magnificent artwork. Jazz in New York really took off after the Depression and it went on to become one of America’s indigenous artforms. I believe that this recession can become the cultural womb from which a new generation of artists emerge. That’s my vision.”