Matt M. Relox is a special artist, devoted to God, to Italian art and to his perseverance and passion for art born when he was still a child drawing with a banana leaf and now he paints subjects that inspire tenderness and love making use of a style between propaganda and retro imagery for an aesthetic that intrigues anyone who observes his works. Works that exude irony but also hope for a confused and amoral world, in which art often seems to be irreverent and mystifying, at the service of bad taste and the cult of individualism inflated by the contemporary art market. But to say that globalization is flattening everything and that tradition has disappeared is a lie: children born from the reinterpretation of these two poles can be very interesting, precisely because they trample on limbo, an indefinable threshold in which anything can happen.
Matt M. Relox probably thinks so too. He is certainly not, because of his age, one of the children of these two instances but certainly he loves Tradition and makes art to contemplate God, practicing the power of the Spirit to honor him. The religious factor is relevant in Relox’s artistic path, bearing in mind that the Philippines, whose culture derives from the mixing of foreign influences with indigenous elements, is the only Asian country with a Christian majority, although important Muslim minorities are still present.
The stylistic code of Relox is enclosed in the delicacy and tenderness (as seen from the works Echo park in the heart of Los Angeles, How to fly the kite and Waiting for the date) a soft use of color: ink, watercolor pastel, oil and acrylic. The satisfaction of the result obtained leads the Filipino artist to practice traditional strokes and colors to make use of brighter colors on thin strokes, also using cross hatching on the ink pen. Matt. M. Relox was awarded the Gawad America Award night at the Celebrity Center Hollywood in 2019.
When did you start painting?
I remember I was a kid, I started to get interested in real art my father. My father showed me how to draw a male head and a shoulder, in a lateral position. That moment captured me, attracted my interest while my father sang interpreting the forms faithful to the lyrics of the song until he finished singing just as the drawing was finished. I don’t remember the song. At that point no one could stop me from drawing whenever I wanted, we were on the farm most of the time, so we didn’t have the source of any artistic material to draw on the paper and not even a pencil most of the time. So I used a banana leaf. On the other side of the leaf there was something like a white thing that you can draw on any subject using anything pointed. Sometimes I made a drawing in the ground, on the wall using a piece of burnt wood, at the end of the stick there is natural charcoal, since then I still haven’t been able to understand where that dream is going to lead me.
How would you define your art?
I define my art as an appreciation for God and for his own glory. The God who created the whole world, created the incredible beauty of the human being, the inner beauty that we can feel and witness to his greatness, the colors of the universe, the shapes that we can see around us. The beauty of animals, there is no doubt that this is the ultimate reason for me to paint his great creation every time. People change, and change seems to be damaging to people, rivers and even the ocean. In my art, at least, I can try to preserve this truth as a canvas for the benefits of subsequent generations.
Are there any artists you are particularly inspired by?
I can’t deny that I was influenced by our main local artist from the Philippines, I already know the great Italian masters Michelangelo, Leonardo. I saw their famous paintings in the calendars of the Sistine Chapel, also Leonardo’s La Gioconda masterpiece; at that time I had no idea of the local artists, of their realistic painting, the touch of this artist inspired me and every time I paint I am inspired by him and also by the works of the aforementioned masters.
What value does art have in the East and especially in the Philippines?
A very important aspect is the search for spirituality: if the towel given by Veronica to dry the sweat of the Messiah had been lost, Christians would have no idea of its appearance. It is in us, a faith that could move a mountain. In the Philippines, people are aware that they have a talent in equivalent art, to the masters in Europe, which puts them on the same level. Painting is a very precious gift because it is the only universal ability to create something from nothing.
The religion of the Philippines is multicolored, which do you feel you belong most?
Religion in the Philippines are divided into Christian Catholics, evangelical and Muslims. I belong to the brown race with the apostles and prophets who were called Christians for the first time in Antioch.
The experience that has given you the greater satisfaction?
The greatest satisfaction I have ever experienced is that when someone appreciates and is recognizes my works. I feel rested from the labors of being an artist. It’s the basic example, it was a great feeling to find an art critic like you.
Tenderness and serenity seem to be etched on the faces of your protagonists. Do you like to see humanity in this way?
Tenderness should be cultivated by everyone, every single person should do it. One can agree on your idea about the faces of my characters as each of us has an idea of what the other means even when he paints and usually imagines to see the earth from space as a peaceful and calm organism where there is no conflict. Multiply the number by the number of people who think in this way, they can influence their neighbor with their thoughts
What do you think of contemporary American art by virtue of the fact that you live in the United States?
My interaction of spirits with contemporary American arts helps me to become stronger by practicing the power of the spirit of the artist that belongs to everyone, to all artists, regardless of where we are on earth. In creation we were created according to His image, in the sense that if God is the great creator, then we have the power and ability, the artistic inheritance in the spirit. the only difference now between him and us is that we are creating things from things he has already created.
Dreams to be fulfilled?
I dream of being known as an artist. But I know that to make this dream come true, I need patrons so that I can cross the door of success…
Photo portrait of Matt M. Relox
Matt M. Relox, A quick mind scape, painting oil on canvas
Matt M. Relox, Waiting for the date, oil on canvas
Journalist, blogger and social media editor from Campania. i graduated in literature and philology and I gained a master in art and organization of cultural events. I love cinema, art, music, literature, especially Russian, French and Italian. I read a lot, both narrative and non-fiction. I share Picasso’s thoughts on art: “Art helps us to recognize the truth”.