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 Matthew Holden Bates  (1970 - )

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Lived/Active: District Of Columbia / Italy      Known for: cityscapes, still life, landscape

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Matthew Holden Bates
An example of work by Matthew Holden Bates
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography was submitted by the artist in June 2005:

Matthew Bates was born in Washington, D.C. in 1970 to an artistic family. His father, Stephen Bates is a professional clarinet and bass clarinet player in the Opera House Orchestra of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and is a talented abstract watercolor painter. His mother Isabella Bates teaches singing with an emphasis on healing meditative techniques, and his sister Jessica is a theatre actress who currently lives and works in New York City. Matthew attended the highly acclaimed Sidwell Friends School where in his senior year he won the art award and was captain of the Track team. At 18, Matthew left Washington to go to art school in San Francisco at the Academy of Art College. While there he learned many techniques in drawing, painting, and design.

After two years of Art College, Matthew decided to take a year long course in Firenze, Italy based on the advise that he got from Thomas Marsh, one of Matthew's art teachers. This became the turning point in his life, as an artist and as a young man, because Firenze changed everything for him. Before Italy, his paintings were abstract in style as he would let the watercolor flow onto the page, much like his father paints. Slowly, things began to change.

In 1992 Matthew moved to Firenze, not as a student, but as a person who was looking for a radical change in his life. When he returned to Italy his paintings started to take on an ever more realistic style, until in 1995 he created Holy Water, this painting which defines his new technique of using photographs to get primary information for his paintings. This would be developed further in his later works, such as Notte, and Pitti Lillies.

In 1998 Matthew was introduced to the computer which would further help his developing style. By being able to create images on the computer before the start of a new painting, Matthew was able to see what a project would look like before the first brushstroke touched the canvas. In this way Matthew was able to make commissions for clients and show them his computer work-ups before the project started. This can be seen in such paintings as: Lucia, Tuscan Dream, Anne's Poppies, Singing Beach and Waterfall, all commissions that were begun with computer work-ups.

As the new millennium rolled around Matthew added a new aspect to his growing list of techniques by getting a digital camera. The digital camera has brought the use of photographs in his work to a higher level. With the digital camera Bates was able to take many more pictures and see them instantly, ever increasing the quality of his images.

Now the creation of his realistic oil paintings was taking on even greater quality and the paintings began to take on even more details, and larger scale. Some examples of this are: Villa Cafaggio Still Life, Santa Trinità Bridge, and Piazza Frescobaldi .The last two represent Matthew's latest development which is the bending of space and time. By adding photographs together Bates creates an image which stretches reality with three perspective points to his image. For example, if you are looking, in real life, at one side of the Santa Trinità bridge, you cannot see the other side if you were to be standing in the exact spot where Matthew took his photographs, however in the painting we are able to see both sides at once due to the adding on of photographs from left to right.

Matthew calls this technique "Magic Realism" because it allows us to see a realistic image in an magical context. It is as if we had three sets of eyes, spying on the world all at once. One of Matthew's latest paintings is called Campanile di Giotto. In no other painting is this new technique more pronounced, because Matthew took his photographs from only 20 meters away from the base of the tower. In this way, if you were there, and looking at its base you would not be able to see the top of the bell tower, but Matthew adds new dimension by bending space and time to include three perspective points so that we can also see the top of the tower. Matthew's technique has been molded by mathematical principals as well. In several of his paintings he has used Fibonacci Rectangles, or the Golden Ratio, to create the design of the painting.

Matthew is now 35 years old and his career is still in its beginnings. However if we look back at his 22 years of painting we can see that the development is that of a much older artist. Matthew is not afraid to use new technologies in his work while respecting the historic qualities that have been handed down to his through the ages. Firenze has been his greatest teacher, and Matthew is a good student. Matthew said: "Sometimes I can feel Michelangelo look over my shoulder while I'm painting and tell me that I can do better!" Bates's Paintings can be found in private collections from Alaska to Venice, and in many permanent online exhibits. He is still living and painting in Firenze to this day.


Digital Consciousness - Artist of the Month - October 2004
Artsy Award - Gold
Karaart - Gold
Golden Web Award - 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
ArtSpace2000 Award - 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
ArtRom InPeace 2004 - Finalist
Miller Communications Artistry Award
JetZone Award - Silver
Inside Hotwire 3D - Silver
Lindor Blu - Silver
Free World Group - Webmaster Award - Silver
Art Majeur Award - Silver
Pegasus Art Award - Silver
Nodus Design Award - Bronze
Artabus Award - Bronze
DRH Design Award - Merit


1998 Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.
2001 Art-E-Mail, Marbella, Spain
2002 Art-E-Mail, Marbella, Spain
2003 Enoteca Giraldi, Firenze


Absolute Arts
Mind's Island
D'Art Fine-Art, Digital Consciousness

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