A 1996 graduate of Winthrop University, Paul has exhibited his work in the Carolinas and Georgia. His paintings focus on his constant search for truth and honesty in his work and the world around him. The images are drawn from religion, roadside icons and hand painted "sermons", local legends and myths, vegetable and firework stands, kudzu and the Southern landscape, barbecue and other significant treasures from his region.
Journals and the unconventional idea of "sketch books" have always held a particular interest for this artist. In 1999, continuing with his ongoing series "The Search for Truth", he began a series of work referred to as "journal paintings", integrating his interest in the visual aesthetic of the written word in journals with his planned images. New work from this series are included in this exhibition.
My pieces wouldn’t be the same if I bought prefabricated materials. The total process is important to the final result. There are several parts in creating a painting: selecting wood, cutting, assembling the panels, priming, writing on the surface, surface preparation and image making. Then the final painting eventually emerges. All along, there are internal conversations. When I write on the boards, the words are usually thoughts, prayers, ideas, and song lyrics or conversations I overhear in or around my studio. But the process of painting on the surface is a quiet opportunity to reflect, think, withdraw and escape. During the writing and image making the time seems more like sacredly silent moments.
Nature is an important element in my creative process and actively participating in nature is critical. The mountains, trees, leaves, wind and paddling on the rivers, tidal creeks and lakes and absorbing the low country landscape help provide energy and influence in the creation of my paintings.
I don’t always know exactly what my paintings are “about”. I know my influences, elements and what the elements in my image bank mean to me, however I leave any specific or personal meaning up to the viewer and their own experiences to consider what it might mean to them, and seeing the work through their own unique experiences and influences.
One of my first art lessons was from a sign painter in Belton, SC that rented a shed in the back of my granddad’s Gulf Station. Later on, when I became more aware of the visual culture of the region I began to search out artists that were completely different than anything else I had ever seen, including other sign painters, traditional folk and outsider artists – paying close attention to their honesty, intent and their approach and reason for making art – in addition to many other artists at Winthrop University and along the Carolina border. The visual elements of music have also been a huge influence in my work, when songs collide with the landscape during road trips through the country.
Paul Matheny, 2007