You Don't Know Dick: The Lesser Known Works of Richard Peter Matson

April 19 - July 7, 2019

Custom House Museum | Bryan Gallery

Capturing the intense tropical light, the saturated colors and mysterious shadows, Richard Peter Matson synthesizes the essence of Key West.  The subtle tension between the literal that is seen and the unknown behind it gives his work its unmistakable look and character.

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1936, he attended private schools on Long Island before being accepted to The Cooper Union Art School in New York City.  This was followed by graduate studies at Yale University School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut where he studied under such 20th century masters as Joseph Albers and Neil Welliver.

Richard went to work in advertising, coming to Key West in 1975.  It was love at first sight and he moved here permanently shortly thereafter.  With that, what had been an avocation became a vocation and he had his first show at Gingerbread Square Gallery in 1977.

While Richard’s subject is Key West, his verb is light and his ability to render the myriad manifestations of local light sets his work apart.  Original training in classical oil techniques lent itself to his change to acrylics – and his work shows the engaging effect of thin transparent glazes of color over color.  The New York Times wrote, “His fascination with the brilliant tropical sunlight, its interplay with the local flora, has led to an extraordinary handling of paint, color and imagery.”

With many exhibitions of his work, and a string of awards including the Key West Art Center’s 1999 Best of Show, the Conch Republic Phone Book was honored to feature Richard’s painting Sunset Over the Harbor from Casa Antigua, Key West on its 1999 cover.

“To look at a Matson is to see a canvas awash in color…it breathes vitality and celebrates life.  His view of Nature is a lush green cathedral,” the Key West Citizen.  The Miami Herald added, “He’s the Florida artist that paints with colors that ‘snap’.”

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