Philadelphia artist falls for the Westhoek
After an art career in Philadelphia, Matt Frock made the drastic choice to move his studio to Ypres. He established himself in our country as an online gallery owner and has since expanded. A search for a public workspace led to the Frock Gallery.
Art touches us. When did an artwork first move you?
Matt Frock: 'My earliest memories go back to the artworks in the house in New Jersey where I grew up. My mother was an interior designer and constantly decorated the houses our family lived in. I remember a cubist knight on a horse and super twinkly wallpaper with green and gold patterns. The house in Philadelphia we moved to when I was five would become her magnum opus and my first introduction to contemporary art.'
Which work of art would you give your life for?
Matt Frock: 'In 1995, I studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, an institution that greatly enhanced my knowledge of contemporary art and art history. That year, I was lucky enough to travel to New York City by bus. The bus stop was in front of the MET, where a retrospective of Howard Hodgkin was running. On the way back, I passed the entrance to the exhibition. I walked through it to catch the bus. And halfway through, I stopped. The painting Writing jumped off the wall and opened up into an immense space. It was one of the most beautiful optical illusions I had ever seen. I returned to the beginning of the exhibition and let all the works open before my eyes and their alternate worlds revealed themselves. I was late getting back to the bus, but it was worth it. I have never forgotten that experience and only now, 27 years later, do I feel I understand Hodgkin's work sufficiently.'
What art do you specialise in, and why?
Matt Frock: 'I make paintings inspired by nature and the artworks of people I admire. I love modernism, because there is so much progress and progressiveness there. But I also have a healthy fondness for traditional Japanese nihonga and Chinese painting.'
What project is central to you at the moment?
Matt Frock: 'Developing Frock Gallery and Art Shop as a contemporary art space that showcases the work of living artists as it unfolds in the studio is currently our priority. Our mission is to bring art to a wider audience in Ypres and beyond, and this has proven to be a worthy but necessary challenge.'
From 5 November to 30 December, three artists will exhibit together at Frock Gallery. Belgian ceramic sculptor Liliane Demeester will exhibit her work together with Austrian painter Brigitte Kratochwill and German painter Katja Grammann. An epic display of female creativity. Everyone is welcome to the vernissage on Friday evening 4 November from 18 to 23h at Rijselstraat 26 in Ypres.