Local artist enjoys playing with the boundaries of awareness. Of expression and introspection, of the space between self and the collective unconscious, and in doing so creates narratives in paint, drum beats, yoga and thought. Story by RENEE PATRICK
A student of the American Academy of Art in Chicago and the University of Illinois, Bade was immersed in art fundamentals as well as the more abstract side of conceptual art. Through studying art’s historical narrative, he came to the realization that every advancement in art history coincided with a shift in form. “Everything interested me,” he said. “Through my investigations via my own art making, I realized certain styles resonated more: abstract impressionism, early Picasso, minimalists and existential painters, people reaching for raising awareness beyond the physical.”
Pivotal in fueling Bade’s quest for connection to the world around him, mentor and professor at University of Illinois, Kerry James Marshall, left him with a sense of exploration that Bade continues to apply to his art and life. “And he [Marshall] contends that if we are to continue to keep doing this, to keep painting, we need to go about it in an unambiguous way. Meaning, looking consciously for gaps, for the places where there is unfinished business, and filling them,” said Bade. “But what shines through Kerry and his work the most is a sense of heart, supreme intelligence, passion and equality. He also has a way of making you believe that you can do anything if you really want to. The sign of a great mentor.”
ade’s investigations into expanding the awareness beyond the physical realm have influenced other aspects of his life, including becoming a musician, practicing yoga and recently creating intuitive readings through art. “I like the sense that I can leave myself open for whatever modality I want to pursue that is applicable at a given time. Because through my investigations of different art forms, I am ultimately trying to help people. Art has always done that, regardless of the way is it wrangled and commodified. Art can move people deeply in ways other experiences cannot,” he said.
Bade is a drummer in the band, Vasudeva (meaning “good god” and also the namesake of an important character in the book, Siddhartha). Through drumming, bass, trumpet, guitar, violin and voice, Vasudeva plays during a guided yoga practice which aims to connect minds and bodies through the rhythm and sound of live music. “Flow,” explained Bade, “relates to yoga, drumming and art. It is about being present and aligning with the moment. Acceptance. If I don’t nurture my modalities regularly, I start to question things and become very cerebral. The notion of duality overcomes me. What I am trying to do is attain a sense of wholeness in the moment. Wholeness is where I feel aligned with my surroundings, with my body and mind and spirit. The flow…and you can see the rhythmic influence in my art.”
He has recently begun to explore the form of intuitive readings through art as a possible path to a career in counseling, upon the suggestion of Kathy Nagel, a counselor at Hawthorn Healing Arts Center. In exploring the role of a counselor, he began to draw while having conversations with friends in times of stress or in the midst of personal turmoil. “We would find illuminations in the drawings our dialogue was not revealing. It is a reciprocal conversation, a creative act, and they walk away with a visual representation of our discussion,” Bade explained. “They can then go further and commission a painting based on the drawing…It is something new, but it feels really natural and is a process I enjoy.”
Bade is an artist who finds great importance in intention and integrity. Wanting to move away from using toxic materials in his art, he turned to working with corn syrup and earth pigments in a recent piece. “I wanted the fluidity of the syrup, and to build my materials from the ground up, thus the powdered pigment. The juxtaposition of those two materials has interesting conceptual implications.
“It is a cultural move towards being more green, and on a conceptual level…corn syrup is in everything. There is also a temporality to it. Many artists try to find materials that can be archived, but I adore the notion of impermanence. That plays into my work in many ways. Corn syrup hardens, but if I poured water on it, it would become viscous again. The event laid out on the canvas then is essentially in suspension.”
Bade states he is still searching for what could be considered a mature form in his art and will always be exploring, but has found resonance in the moment. “I have just scratched the surface but have found an alignment and am still on the hunt, and excited. I feel more focused and clear about what I am doing now versus ever before…and I’m increasingly interested in what is real but what is unseen. And often it’s what isn’t said, isn’t written, or isn’t painted or played that has the most weight. Anything I can do to get myself or anyone else out of our own experience and especially our minds is always an aim. Because when that happens we really know our place in relation to everything else.
“I am very aware of the wider historical narrative and ultimately strive to create work that is relevant to it. My paintings speak of my interests but they are about painting too. Art is a report of the times and good art reports authentically the current character of the world. Great art reports on what the future is going to be.”
Bade’s work can be seen at Hawthorn Healing Center thru June. www.matthewbade.com (photography website), 773-301-4494