The 'Eyedealistic' Matthew McCarthy
"Making it, seeing it, hearing it, tasting it and helping others to make it. Art makes me happy."
- Matthew McCarthy.
The greatest joy for any passionate artist is seeing how art can create a major impact or shift people's thoughts. It may happen slowly but eventually it hits home, much like music. For McCarthy, the love for creating something from a complex idea is not only therapeutic but life saving.
His work manifests positivity through an 'eyedealistic' approach, feeding off the energy of Jamaica communities. From his ability to transform feelings into murals, McCarthy splashes vibrant characters in and around Kingston and St.Andrew, representing the reality of the people.
It started out as pulling old toys apart and using its parts to make boats and helicopters then mimicking his cousin Daniel's artwork, then transforming the covers of his notebooks. Seeing his interest, McCarthy's mother quickly embraced his talents and became the spark that lit the young boy's interest.
"She would challenge me to draw things and I would take hours on the floor making a rendition that she always hung on the wall in her office. Her staff members were my first audience and throughout my life, these type of encouragement and support motivated me to pursue art," McCarthy told Flair.
By high school, the youngster would spend his summer days working in a paint shop to raise money to buy an airbrush machine. When he got his machine, T-shirts to sell at school.
Birth of visual energy
After growing amongst talented people at the Wolmer's Boys School and the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts, McCarthy developed a love for Jamaica's voice and diversity. He also learnt the art of thinking outside of the box and grew a deeper understanding of himself. Soon after, with guidance from lecturers, he became invested in the future of Jamaica's art.
"It was the guidance of some great human beings that gave me the confidence to pursue art and eventually took me to mind blowing spaces," he explained.
Creating the group Urban Lemon Juice with a bunch of friends in College, McCarthy produced many projects, including directing and editing the music video "Kingston be Wise" for Protoje. McCarthy went on to win first place in the World Skills, Visual merchandising competition, which gave him a renewed drive to start taking the idea of designing messages into the pubic seriously.
For his final year show, McCarthy chose to make a project that surrounded the idea of Jamaica and its visual culture. After much research and making reference to old school Jamaican album covers, he realised that Jamaica has a culture of making very accurate representation of their people, style and emotions, and decided to a visual study of Jamaican street art. In his study he praised the street art with his own renditions of progressive sub messages placed in the public. This became a big hit and led him to the Paint Jamaica Project.
The project which started in 2014 and was founded by Marianna Farag who planted the idea of doing the biggest mural in Kingston, was driven to make a difference and created the aim of painting on walls that would have high impact on the community due to its nature.
"Luckily we found just the place in Southside parade Gardens and we were embraced by a warm community with big ideas. All the murals were derived with one on one conversations with the members of the community. We also collaborated with many young leaders and had sponsors like Berger Paints, Purity and Island Grill who helped to really open people's hearts," he expressed.
Paint Jamaica also acted as a great platform for anyone who just wanted to paint and get their message across. Later, McCarthy acquired the post of creative director at Nanook Enterprises and joined an European tour to view other artist run spaces in the world. They travelled to Germany where they exhibited in Hamburg and Berlin and travelled to reggae festivals selling merchandise and doing street art.
"Looking back it was really interesting to see how a little paint can make so many people start moving," he said with a smile.
The creative describes himself as an 'eyedealist' as he has always wanted to make something that could exist as an idea when you see it. McCarthy plans on doing a lot more specific pieces as his art around town is his passion of spreading an idea and growing something that can be referenced in the tough times Jamaicans face.