Born in London in 1959, Matthew Browne graduated with an Honours Degree in Painting from the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in 1982. In 1999 he received a Master of Fine Arts from the Auckland University School of Fine Arts, Elam.
Browne's paintings continually display echoes of the work of the British Modernists that he studied under. Initially concerned with the physical process of painting, Browne increasingly focused on organic, sweeping gestures across a monochromatic ground. The calligraphic marks and chosen colours were intended to transcend the intellect in order to establish a connection with primal instincts. As he states: “I have been most interested in the complexities of the human condition and in the various levels of cerebral consciousness and sensation that strike such a delicate balance in order for us to exist and co-exist with one another". He adds: “the power of colour lies in its ability to transcend the intellect, even momentarily, to encourage a more primal response”. In this manner, Browne holds firm parallels with the American Abstract Expressionists and particularly the early work of Barnett Newman with his focus on primordial instinct and the universal unconscious.
Retaining his interest in the human condition, Browne subsequently began to pare back his vocabulary of forms, embarking upon a journey of reduction and refinement. The resultant paintings displayed a smooth and unblemished ground overlaid by an opaque vertical followed by a delicate and transparent horizontal veil of colour. The introduction to this period was illustrated in Browne’s 2002 exhibition at ARTIS Gallery entitled Collective
Browne's successful exhibition at ARTIS Gallery in 2005, Rollercoaster
, revealed a dramatic shift away from the spare linearity of his previous series, with an energetic physicality of approach was re-embraced.
The importance of the artistic process in his recent paintings is evident in Browne's assertion that "it is a momentarily tense introduction as I begin each piece, for I am painting blind and am unsure of what will follow. Each work begins as a clear slate (tabula rasa) and then over time an image and form appears. It is only when the work is nearing completion that I come anywhere near being able to title it, prompted by the forms and sensations revealed by the process." Nevertheless, his works continue to successfully retain an element of the linear in their energetically worked forms and biomorphic shapes.
Browne's most recent exhibitions have shown an increased interest in the power of the expressive line with Browne’s hand leaving its trail as it weaves and dances over the canvas. Ultimately, Browne's artistic transitions and developments manage to retain a thread of continuity through his exploration of the potential power of linear and chromatic elements, through his sustained focus on the delicate harmony existing between polarities of the unconscious and conscious mind and through the visible reactions of impulse and deliberation.
Matthew Browne has been exhibiting solo since 1986 and has work in private collections in New Zealand, Australia, England, Denmark, Singapore and the United States. In New Zealand he is represented in the permanent collections of The James Wallace Arts Trust and the Parliamentary Collection, Parliament Buildings, Wellington. Browne also has work in the collection of The Royal Overseas League, London.