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Holladay Journal

Human meets machine meets nature in Vince Mattina’s artwork

Jul 01, 2019 03:38PM ● By Sona Schmidt-Harris

Finished works by Vincent Mattina in his studio. (Sona Schmidt-Harris/Holladay Journal)

By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]

Vince Mattina’s mixed-media pieces evoke thought on the modern age. Most are human-meets-machine-meets-nature with surrealist images that are often disturbing. However, a playful whimsy plays across Mattina’s face and infuses some of his art. Of note is “Light of the World,” a lit globe with a bespectacled hat.

Born in St. Louis and educated at the Columbus College of Art and Design where he studied illustration, Mattina made his way to Holladay via southern California where he worked in art direction and design for 25 years.

He attributes some of his artistic inspiration to his time in Los Angeles where he was drawn to contemporary art. “They view digital art differently there,” Holladay’s Artist of the Month Mattina said. “It’s still in its infancy stage now. It’s kind of like when photography came out and no one really thought it was an art form because the camera did it.”

What inspires Mattina to create art is “just having a story to tell.” He abandoned creating his own art when he was working and his son was growing up. “I just kind of felt there was a void,” Mattina said. Feeling like he was doing work for his clients’ vision, Mattina wanted his own personal story. However, he feels that working for others gave him ideas for his own art.

Since college, Mattina’s style has evolved significantly. “I had traditionally painted and drawn and used pencil like everybody else. But once I worked in the graphic design industry, I really got into using the computer, and that’s what led to doing digital art. And then from there, I got into using mixed-media assemblage work — just because I like old things and going to garage sales and estate sales. I collected stuff for years before I actually made things out of them. I’m combining the assemblage stuff with the digital art.”

“It’s a more natural way for me to work,” Mattina said. 

An example of Mattina’s mixed-media assemblage is “Delta Waves,” an assembly of resin over a digital print to give it an underwater look with 3D “found objects” on the frame. The piece won a couple of awards.  

Mattina is troubled by the modern age and “the space that it creates between people.” He fears that rather than interacting in person, people go online or use technology to interact. He is also apprehensive about “the growing presence of artificial intelligence,” which he believes may be taking us over. He cites an app that has been developed with facial recognition software. If a video is taken of a subject, the app can manipulate the moving image such that it’s hard to tell reality from fiction. “That’s really scary,” Mattina said.

He also believes in the inevitability of man and machine merging. “The first step is they’re thinking about augmenting your body with smart drives or implants that will make your IQ higher,” he said. “It has kind of started with people who have lost their legs. Instead of just appendages, they can move it with their mind.”  

“I’m trying to get people to stop and think about it. I think if you’re just going to do pretty pictures people might not take you as seriously and not think about it as much as if they have to stop and think and ask questions,” Mattina said. However, he doesn’t always want to tell people what his art is about. “Sometimes people have their own interpretation far beyond what I was thinking,” he said. “I have heard some amazing explanations of what they thought my art meant.”

Mattina sees himself as a surrealist and said it was his first love when he discovered Salvador Dali in junior high school. Other primary influences include Robert Rauschenberg and Italian Renaissance painters Da Vinci and Michelangelo, and Joseph Cornell.

Despite his success, Mattina said, “I still feel I haven’t actually arrived yet into my style even though I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh you’re there.’ I don’t have that one thing that is mine and unique to me. It’s a process. There’s nothing new under the sun, unfortunately.”

To learn more about Mattina and his art, visit his website: www.vincentmattina.com

To nominate an Artist of the Month, email [email protected]