Matthew Palladino Breaks the Mold of Artistic Expression

Matthew Palladino is different than any average sculptor, or painter, for that matter. He aims to create something out of nothing, but rather than a sculptor who might forge a form out of bronze or marble, Palladino fits his own individual artistic mold. He rearranges casts and colors either virtually or in reality to create masterpieces exploring contemporary themes of the body and technology. Finding beauty within the often overlooked, Palladino pieces together a framework regarding the industrial and mechanical world versus creativity and artistic expression. Combining different techniques to his advantage, he uses found imagery to piece together his works as if completing a puzzle. His futuristic and funky reliefs combine painting and sculpting, working harder than the typical artist to produce each piece and reanimate mundane objects. In works like The Shell, he uses a skull and a QR code to form his own dialogue around a female form and the juxtaposition between art and technology and vice versa. Working first in watercolors, he later shifted to the reliefs we see in some of the images below. Now, we see a new phase of Palladino’s artistic career where he is stepping back from these reliefs to re-explore watercolor, and, who knows, maybe incorporate that into a whole new medium.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and when did art first enter your life?

I was born and raised in San Francisco. My parents are creatively inclined and had a lot of artist friends, so it was always around growing up.
“The Shell”, 60″ x 48″, acrylic on plastic and resin. Courtesy of the artist.
Why did you start experimenting with media and has your work always taken on the style it currently embodies?
I mainly did work on paper, watercolor, until around 2013 when I started to explore the relief work. I originally was interested in using vacuum form to capture and repeat objects, almost like a 3D photograph that you could copy and paste. I then started doing all the 3D work on the computer around 2018, using a mix of 3D photography, design and ready made 3D models to create the work on the computer. I then I would have the structures 3D printed in parts, with a lot of post production and hand painting after.
How do you create a composition? What is your process like?
I design on the computer, using it as my sketchpad to play with different ideas and compositions, but the final work is always done by hand. I like the strengths of each.
“Gilgo Beach”, 30″ x 22″, watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
What do you think is the foremost feeling your work inspires in the viewer?
I’m not sure. People comment “wow” a lot on Instagram. Hopefully excitement.
“The Monstrosity”, 30″ x 22″, watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
From where do you draw inspiration?
For the reliefs, the main two inspirations have been a mix of ancient stone carvings and mass produced plastic products from the 80’s and 90’s.
What is the most exciting part of crafting your reliefs?
When they first are printed in parts and I can see what I designed on the computer in real life, that’s the most exciting.
“Natasha’s Room”, 14″ x 10″, watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Are there any references to your childhood or pop culture in your works? Could you comment on the general theme of what you create?
Mass produced plastic toys, furniture, etc from my childhood seem to be a recurring reference. Also early computer games, the layout and perspective seem to have stuck in the way I design my compositions. Also the dark playfulness of shows like PeeWee’s Playhouse surely had an effect.
“Circuit Board”, 64″ x 52″, acrylic on plastic, resin and wood panel. Courtesy of the artist.
Are there any Art Historical movements or individuals that your art references?
Growing up in San Francisco, the art scene there of people like Margaret Kilgallen and Chris Johanson certainly had an influence on the early work I do on paper. But the reliefs are influenced by a mix of modern painting and ancient relief carvings, such as those at Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Aztec and Incan stone work from Central and South America.
“Circuit Board”, 64″ x 52″, acrylic on plastic, resin and wood panel. Courtesy of the artist.
What do you have coming up?
Im taking a break from the relief work to re-explore watercolor at the moment.
At the end of every interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?
My friend Eric Shaw has been making some really incredible new work, check him out.