Fresh off the back of his Adelaide Fringe Festival fame, Warrnambool-based artist Matthew Clarke is still on a high and looking forward to another big year.
Clarke's piece was the winning artwork chosen to feature on the program for the event, which ran from February 15 to March 17.
The self-portrait of himself as a Fringe performer was one of 357 entries selected.
Clarke went to Adelaide during the festival to see his work featured on promotional posters and on the side of a tram.
"There was about 50 banners in the city of Adelaide and every venue had my poster on it and then it was on the front page of the Adelaide Advertiser on Saturday leading up to the Fringe," Clarke said.
He was also pleased to be featured on the television news.
"I went on all the major channels in September. They had an overlap of me in front of the mural and then announced me as the poster winner," Clarke said.
Clarke said was really exciting to see his work everywhere and to gain further exposure.
He described his style as naive abstract and enjoys painting using bright colours.
This year has started with a bang for the Kirkstall resident, and shows no sign of slowing down.
His exhibition Wine and Wallabies is showing at Fisher Jeffries Gallery in Adelaide and he is also featured in the Inland to Outland exhibition at Swan Hill Regional Gallery.
He's exhibiting with six other artists, alongside works from the Swan Hill gallery's permanent collection, in the show which runs until May 26.
Clarke's art is also currently being showcased on a large screen at a London gallery.
"I'm also in Saatchi on the Screen at London's Saatchi Gallery," he said.
"I don't know how many people I was selected out of but it's pretty hard to get into.
"That's one of the most prestigious art museums in the world for contemporary artists."
The gallery plays selected artworks which are randomly rotated with the artist's name, where they're from, the artwork title, medium and size.
He was a finalist in the Dobell Drawing Prize at Sydney's National Art School.
The exhibition opened on March 28 and runs until May 25.
Clarke was selected for the prize which showcases the best of recent drawing, research and experimentation.
"They had 788 people apply and there were 57 finalists," he said.
"It's the most prestigious drawing prizes in Australia. It's a huge honour for me."
Clarke said his goal going forward was to enter more prizes and shows.
"I want to make people feel happy and proud that I'm a Warrnambool artist and people acknowledge who I am," Clarke said.
"I've got a disability so I want people to know art isn't a barrier for me.
"I do love it and doing the exhibitions really excites me.
"I've done 17 solo and about 60 group exhibitions.
"Mossenson Gallery in Perth - they take my work to art fairs.
"They've taken it to New York, Paris, the Sydney Contemporary art fair, that's the biggest in the country."
Clarke's passion for art began at South West TAFE in 2005, aged 18, and he has continued to develop his skills since then.
"I like to make people feel happy and portraiture, landscapes and sculptures are big themes at the moment," he said.
Clarke is looking forward to a wallabies coming home party at the Fletcher Jones Gardens on Easter Monday.
It will showcase his hand-painted sculptures that are returning from a Brisbane show.
"I draw the wallabies and my dad cuts them out, then I paint them.
"There will be about 17.
"They're abstract and I've used fiery brush strokes."
In 2018 his artwork called Lost in Melbourne beat 180 entries to win the emerging talent category of the city of Melbourne tram art project.
Clarke's work was transformed into a 25 metre sticker and plastered on a tram.
The colourful abstract piece was his interpretation of what it is like to be in Victoria's largest city.
"My painting is about Melbourne's size, colours, proportions, life and streetscape which, as an artist from the country, can be both exciting and overwhelming," he said.
He said his greatest influence was the late street artist-turned-gallery artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Clarke works with Out There Factory Arts teacher/mentor Barry Tate at the former Fletcher Jones factory, three to four days a week.
Tate said Clarke's resume was amazing for a young guy.
"It's unbelievable for someone his age," Tate said.
"I don't think Warrnambool realises what they've got.
"His work is just totally unique.
"Matt likes Basquiat's work but you can't really say he copies it or is influenced by anybody.
"That's what people say, is his work is totally unique. It's exciting to see him develop."
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