Matthew Cornell was born in Fairfield, California in 1964. His first memories are of traveling by car across the United States, trips which profoundly affected his way of seeing and representing landscape and nature. After graduating from California State University at Long Beach with a BFA, Cornell moved east focusing on portraiture for a number of years in Florida and Kentucky. He eventually experienced a shift away from figurative painting, and began exhibiting his landscapes at art fairs across the country where he garnered an impressive number of prizes, including five Best of Show awards. Over time, the atmospheric effects created by light and weather became the dominant influence on his landscapes. Cornell’s current work is small in scale, rich in detail, emotionally evocative. His new streetscape paintings are closely observed, faithful renderings of nighttime scenes, painted largely in situ in the artist’s own neighborhood. Cornell’s personal experience of the quiet suburban streets he depicts imbues his paintings with a sense of intimacy. The moody canvases are illuminated by pools of light surrounding a single streetlamp, and punctuated by the glow of windows of darkened houses.
Cornell continues to explore his relationship to nature through his art. “I have always loved the ocean... the essence of creation and destruction, a concept that permeates a lot of my paintings. Maybe there is a rhythm to the waves that connects it to your own rhythm. The crashing waves on the shore like a heartbeat. It is about balance... equilibrium... The ocean reaches for us and we reach for it. When we get close enough, it literally pulls us in. Maybe that is why I paint waves.” - Matthew Cornell