Cultured Magazine

February/March 2016

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STUDIO 116 CULTURED Clockwise from top: Matt Maust in his studio; works in progress; Maust's exhibition "NICO:30"; an installation view of his 2014 show at Paul Loya Gallery in L.A. Matt Maust Los Angeles, CA 90039 BY BRENT LEWIS In Atwater Village, Matt Maust's studio is a complex, messy room spilling over with the materials that inspire, instigate and incite his art. Maust works under the influence of Dieter Roth's Tischmatten, the expressive grace and freedom of Cy Twombly's scribbles and the visual highs and lows of popular culture. Maust's day job is as bassist in the bands Cold War Kids and French Style Furs, and he creates the graphic design for those groups and others. His work gives meaning to all these engagements and vice versa. Spending time with him is to see the capacity for art to—like water—find every crack, every crevice. Your studio is chaotic. Have you thought about cleaning it up? Seriously, is there a function to this? My life is the same way—although I feel very rooted in some spiritual ways. I think I keep the studio chaotic because I feel like it will rub off on my work. In the same way a certain kind of room can be an instrument in recording music, I think the room I chose as my studio acts as a tool. Your music takes you away a lot. How much time do you spend here? It's hard to say, but I try to be in here every day if I am in town. Since I tour a lot and am constantly traveling, I have to settle for hotel rooms to work in much of the time. It's not ideal, but sometimes when I'm away from my studio, things and ideas come to me that normally wouldn't happen in my studio. Your work is so much about layers and that is really reflected here: It's actually difficult to see any single piece. How do you process that, and what is your editing process? I like to think of my work as always growing and yet peeling away from itself. I build up layers, strip them away, add, subtract until sometimes I don't recognize the original idea. Usually, I arrive at a finished piece without consciously realizing it. If it doesn't feel like a gift, I usually don't give the piece much worth. I stay away from being nostalgic or precious with my process. Amongst everything you're involved in—music, T-shirts, graphic design—what is the connection with your art practice? Everything goes into and comes out of my work. I know what interests me, so I make myself available and somehow one thing becomes another. Eventually it finds its way, I am just here to help it along and enjoy the process. I see music and art somewhat like I view fishing. I work very hard, but the fish will always have to find me. I can't force that. How does your work evolve? Do you actively try to push it forward? I think it's about finding my own language. I don't think I ever got very comfortable being myself. I think making what I make is my attempt at being a secure person and a way to ask those questions about myself that I may not be very aware of. It's a fine line between self-reflecting and shouting. Life is confusing, and I hope my work reflects that. You use Instagram a lot; how impactful is it for your process and work? I use Instagram for showing unfinished and finished works. It's a great tool to give people a peek into what I do but retain the mystery. The iPhone works great as a portable scanner. Ten years ago I didn't have that luxury. Do you get feedback through social media? I get a lot of feedback from Instagram. It allows you to exhibit yourself, however you like, and no one is forced to follow you. It really dominates our lives. It's so passive but addicting. I think it has become sort of a journal for me, which is good in some ways and terrible in others. It is what it is.

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