The little things an interview with matt dangler sharp pain in chest and back

By exhibiting his wondrously mystical paintings for over ten years, Matt Dangler has given us countless glimpses into magical worlds that teem with cute and creepy creatures that float and flop the gamut of his beautiful mind. Matt paints with an impeccable attention to detail, a feat particularly impressive considering the majority of his works are small-scale. And despite their littleness, Matt’s creatures evoke a grand response, their big-toothed, big-eyed faces, and wrinkled, feathered, and bejeweled bodies packing a playful sock to the head, leaving you at once both giddy and gloomy and always greedy for more. But in this interview, Matt gives us an important reminder – one illustrated by the Arcade Fire song ‘Creature Comfort:’ “Born in a diamond mine; It’s all around you but you can’t see it.” In other words, he reminds us to look for the magic in everyday life.

It may be a bat you witness, darting overhead as you walk with friends under a full moon; or a visit from your neighbor’s adorable new puppy – wonder abounds, and it’s waiting for you to take notice.

Well, it is quite ironic, I thought my dreams would become vibrant, imaginative and creative etc… but I can say with certainty that as meditation became more of a focus in my life, I hardly ever remember my dreams. When I do they are extremely layered metaphorical stories, and pretty mundane… mostly childhood friends and places that represent different aspects of whatever I’m dealing with. Whenever I’m going through the hardest parts of my life story, I often dream of entering very dark and cold basements of childhood houses. I’m pretty certain Jung would also agree with me that this represents some deep parts of the subconscious. I can only assume that meditation has brought clarity to the structure of my inner world… but the weird cathartic enchanting creature stuff I paint only comes out while creating art. Equally as boring, I get more out of just fully embracing any given moment, then imagining things in trees etc. Often a breeze through the leaves or the sound of the stream outside my studio right now brings me much more than my own imagination, but it’s not as interesting or stimulating to paint.

While on the subject of love and unity, you state on your website, “My work lately comes from a place of love, which influences the art by expressing lighter stories, vibrant colors, surreal characters, and so on.” How does it feel to express that side of yourself and what has the response been from your fans?

It’s been natural… refreshing… easier, to be honest. I like love haha, I like expressing it a lot more than pain. My core fans have really embraced my personal journey, and have become good friends. So, we are personally invested in each other. In regards to the artwork, itself and how it has impacted interest from collectors, sincerely it is selling better than anything I’ve done before, so it works on all fronts. I can’t speak for other artists on this, but I have a very hard time selling “dark” work, although it gains some of the biggest response and attention online. Something that speaks to people’s pain doesn’t necessarily mean they want it hanging on their walls.

In the summer of 2017 you had a solo show called “The Hidden Ones” at Haven Gallery New York, in which you exhibited a collection of artwork wherein you drew “from an inner well of love, opposed to a coping mechanism from pain.” Tell us about the show: were you in attendance at the opening, did you have any standout interactions with fans you’d like to mention, and how AMAZING did it feel do evoke wonder in all of those viewers?

It was a joy to put together the work in the show, I can’t always say the same for other shows I’ve had. They’re often fraught with deadlines and my own crushing standards. Something I wrestle with constantly are my painting techniques, and the technique really flowed harmoniously with the subject matter for this show. I felt really good about that. Also Haven Gallery is run by a couple of my closest friends, so it was such a pleasure to work with them and celebrate in their beautiful gallery space. However, openings are nerve racking for me, my own dedication to zen in general is to overcome some pretty debilitating anxiety – just showing up can be a challenge. But there has not been a single time where I haven’t met the absolute nicest and warmest people at openings. I’m so proud that my work and art circles I’ve navigated attract such impressive people, it’s really humbling.