Artist of the Week

Matthew Rosenquist

June 25, 2024

Matthew Rosenquist is an artist living and working in Los Angeles, California.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
My name is Matthew Rosenquist and I live in Los Angeles, California. I grew up the youngest of six outside of Washington DC. I am an artist and a carpenter and I make sculpture.

Smoke Break | 2024 | Wood and Acrylic Paint | 74x16x12

How do you describe your practice?
I have mingled my backgrounds in painting and woodworking into painted wood sculptures. The process from a brutal slab to a fully realized life-size human form involves a lot of exertion and evolution. I cut the wood with chainsaw, band saw, rasps, and chisels. Then I paint them with brushes and acrylic paint.

What catalyzed your interest in art? 
When I was a child my Dad would scribble on a sheet of paper and have my brother Tom (also an artist and a huge inspiration) and I make drawings from the scribbles.

Nerd Alert | 2023 | Wood, acrylic paint, and steel wire | 60x15x9

What/who is influencing your work right now?
My son is nine and likes anime very much. We draw together at the kitchen table. I am influenced by the fun things I see him drawing and the goofy stuff I sketch.

Describe your current studio or workspace. (Please provide a photo of your studio if you have one)
My space is in a light industrial neighborhood called “Frogtown” next to the LA River. I have a shop with high ceilings that is set up as a sculpture studio but also as a woodshop so that I can take on different jobs.

What are the main motifs in your work?
In addition to my life size figures, I make cars and seventies vans and televisions and pieces that hang from the ceiling. I like to work on stuff that makes me laugh. Some of my figures are doing things with their phones and I guess I want to say something about how silly we all look with phones in our hands.

Texting in a Tartan Skirt | 2023 | Wood and Acrylic Paint | 65x16x12

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?
This June I’ll have four pieces in a portrait show at a Gallery called L’Space in New York City.

What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work?
I want someone who sees my work in a gallery or my studio to laugh. I’m mining the memories of my youth that had significance to me in a funny way. An old television set or a bygone hairstyle or something we wore back in the day will, with luck, bridge a generation gap. An example of this happened at a recent show where my son’s friend Milo, was joyously laughing about a study I made for a future large scale piece called “Big Gulp Fountain”. The gist of the piece is a man drinking a Miller Lite and urinating in a plastic Big Gulp cup.

Polka Dot Dress | 2023 | Wood and Acrylic Paint | 74x16x12

Favorite thing about where you live?
I’ve lived in a lot of places and Los Angeles is the best place I’ve lived so far. I love being able to see the atmospheric space surrounding the San Gabriel Mountains ten miles to the North of my home in Northeast Los Angeles.

White Jeans | 2023 | Wood and Acrylic Paint | 72x16x13

What are you really excited about right now?
I’m excited about taking my son on a backpacking trip in the Southern Sierras in California and spending some time in upstate New York for my son’s summer vacation.

What have you been reading and/or listening to?
I’ve been listening to Moby Dick by Herman Melville in my car. I work on a lot of crossword puzzles. I like the practice and it keeps me off my phone!

Self Portrait (Walking to School) | 2024 | Wood and Acrylic Paint | 74x27x16


Interview conducted and edited by Lily Szymanski. All images courtesy of the artist.