Larger Than Life: The Art and Memory of Matt Doust

On September 5, 2013 by Joy Shannon

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This Saturday, Sept. 7, Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City will unveil the final works that hyperrealist painter Matt Doust was preparing when he tragically died. The internationally-honored Australian artist was just 29 years-old when he died of a seizure. Doust had battled epilepsy his whole life.

Doust was born in Santa Monica and raised in Perth, Western Australia. He made headlines with his portrait of model and actress Gemma Ward which was a finalist for the prestigious Archibald Prize. Several years ago Doust moved from Perth to Los Angeles because he wanted to re-inspire himself in a new environment. In an interview with Homme Paper, Doust said he sought “to be anonymous and start fresh” in a new city. The Thinkspace show was to be Doust’s debut US exhibition for this promising young artist who has already made an impact on the art world.

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Doust has become known for creating large-scale realistic portraits in cool flesh tones. His work has the arresting ability to draw the viewer into the vulnerable honesty often expressed in his subject’s eyes. At times, his portraits recall the grandness of seeing an actor portraying emotions on the big screen, yet the humanness of the truth being expressed draws in the audience. Doust has said he has, at times, attempted to capture beauty that will eventually fade and, in later works, “the internal issues” of his sitters.

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Doust has spoken of his work in quite moving terms, calling his art his “faith” and comparing it to the act of “giving birth to a human being.” He compared his work to an elegant evolution in which it was his job to take each painting and “raise it, nurture it, discipline it, get it to a point where it’s ready to take its own life” and then he lets it go.

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Doust is remembered not only as an immense talent, with his stunningly realistic, raw and seductive large-scale portraits, but also as a genuine person and friend. Doust’s mentor Desi Litis recalls his art as filled with “raw emotion, beauty and honesty (with) the ability to move deeply and inspire.”

Doust had the words “I am forever indebted to my body, forever curious to my mind” tattooed on his right arm, which he interpreted as remembering “the purity of being a child.” In his passing, those words seem poignant in light of the beautiful body of work he has left behind. We are indebted to his physical presence and all the work he did. There also may forever be a curious longing to know what he may have painted next, what roads his mind may have taken him down, had he been with us a little longer.

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It is the hope of Thinkspace Gallery that the show will be a “celebration of Matt’s life and work” and a time for all to “come together and just honor what an amazing soul he was.” Doust’s family has requested that the public not bring flowers, gifts or candles, but instead to make donations in Matt’s name to the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. There will be a donation box at Thinkspace Gallery throughout the run of the show, which will be up until September 28th.

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Thinkspace Gallery

6009 Washington Blvd

Culver City, CA 90232

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