MATTHEW HOPKINS
BATED BREATH
28 NOV – 22 DEC 2012

MATTHEW HOPKINS
Throat #2 2012
acrylic, gel medium and oil on canvas
36 × 30.5 cm

MATTHEW HOPKINS
Absurd walls 2012
acrylic, gel medium and impasto on canvas
30 × 52 cm (diptych)

MATTHEW HOPKINS
Descending pipe smoker 2012
acrylic, gel medium and oil on canvas
56 × 56 cm

MATTHEW HOPKINS
Nasal ascension 2012
acrylic and oil on canvas
71 × 71 cm

MATTHEW HOPKINS
Clown on pipe 2012
acrylic and oil on canvas
84 × 91 cm

MATTHEW HOPKINS
Severed heads 2012
acrylic, gel medium and impasto on canvas  
84 × 168 cm (diptych)

MATTHEW HOPKINS
Occult factory #2 2012
acrylic, gel medium and oil on canvas
56 × 51 cm

MATTHEW HOPKINS
Exhale 2012
acrylic and oil on canvas
25 × 30 cm


‘Bated Breath’, as a figure of speech, suggests an anxiety, or suspense in anticipation for something to occur. Much of my work deals with this kind of expectation in relation to a range of unexplained, mystical, and extraordinary phenomena. My work is centred around the ability of these kinds of phenomena to evoke altered, liminal states of consciousness, and the possibility and hope that within these mental zones, something might happen. What I feel is at the core of this work is the conflict in such experience; on the one hand there is a desire to find meaning and connect to something beyond, and on the other hand there is the absurd, seemingly nonsensical nature of such events."

  ~ Matthew Hopkins, October 2012

A well-known figure of speech, ‘bated breath’ implies a sense of anxiety or suspense for an occurrence which may be anticipated but not necessarily understood in advance. Hopkins intentional use of this idiom to overarch his latest body of work relates to the range of unfamiliar, unexplained and mystical phenomena depicted in his work and their common ability to evoke liminal states of consciousness. Whilst comprehending these extraordinary scenes viewers are lured into an altered state in which Hopkins hopes they will attempt to connect with the uniquely human appreciation of the absurd and also find meaning in the nonsensical.

In the execution of these works Hopkins has scrutinised the incongruous dual meanings of ‘breath’; both its calm sense, such as relaxation, meditation etc. and conversely its erratic, huffing and snorting, connoting unease. Combining both meanings of ‘breath’ and painting what is only a sound, and invisible force, Hopkins has translated its tones and densities into forms, contours and textures. In connection with the production of these works Hopkins made and produced a number of sound recordings involving vocal loops, processed breath, and various musical sounds. Describing how each body of work interrelates Hopkins explains:

“The sound pieces guided the paintings in the sense that they became like deranged, mangled mantras to meditate upon whilst producing the work in the show.”

A selection of these sound recordings have been collected on a limited edition CDR, produced in conjunction with BATED BREATH and are available at the gallery.