Matthew da Silva – Under the Rainbow, Together

Untitled I
2022, Photographic print, 35 x 58.3cm

Untitled II
2022, Photographic print, 35 x 58.3cm

In the series of poems, the text of ‘Untitled I’ has been taken from, ‘Winter Nouns’ (2021), I talk about my Chinese friend often because she has been, and hopefully will continue to be, a part of my life. Her embracing of Mardi Gras and all that it stands for – a defiant display of radical tolerance in the face of active disregard by substantial parts of the broader community – was a sign to me that she belonged to my tribe. She also took me along to a rally in Darling Harbour in the same year in support of marriage equality, a rally I otherwise wouldn’t have been inclined to attend. Although she comes from a country where such initiatives are actively suppressed by a ruthlessly patriarchal state she led me to understand that she embodied in a more extrovert form the very principles that my parents had ignored in me. I am not a brave man and this is probably the only reason I am still alive. Many men who have been through what I have been through either die by cop or some other form of suicide. I was always disinclined to seek conflict and avoid violence. I am possibly more like Proust, living in a specially designed room and only getting up at midday, than Hemingway, attending blood sports and going hunting. ‘Untitled I’ is mainly about my mother, an incredibly talented artist herself, who failed to give me what I needed when I was too young to know how to ask. My Chinese friend, the primary subject of ‘Untitled II’ has always been signally different.

About Matthew da Silva

I was a victim of the patriarchy at an early age; no vacant claim. When I was 16 the private school I attended had French and art on the same day at the same time. When I got home I phoned my father to tell him I wanted to drop French, which I was also good at. He said “No”. The school took this position because French and art are feminised subjects of little standing, ie both optional. When I went to uni the vast majority of my classmates were women, and I graduated in 1985 with a BA(Hons) though barely scraped through with a 2.2. Out of a sense of frustration perhaps my bucks night in 1991 was at the Albury Hotel in Darlinghurst where me and my friends saw a drag show. This is no longer a pub but it is close to where the Mardi Gras happens, an event I attended on more than one occasion during the late 80s. After I started working in 1985 I changed jobs many times looking for a niche I never found in the patriarchy finally relocating overseas in 92. However in 2000 I ended up in the mental ward of a private Tokyo hospital. On returning to Australia the day before the Twin Towers I was unemployed and homeless. I started working again in 2003, took out a new mortgage and met a Chinese woman at uni where I’d gone to do a second degree. When I had a relapse in 2008 she was present in a supportive way. She did not abandon me as my parents had done. Upon my recovery, she made sure I went to see Mardi Gras in 2009 where the photos in the artworks were taken, the same year I moved to Queensland to look after my mother, who was by this time elderly. My Chinese friend met a woman in 2011 and had a relationship with her, which unfortunately didn’t last. I started making art in the form of “paramontages” in 2022, the year she got married to her (still) husband. I have been making art ever since, something I should have been doing for the previous 50 years during which I worked to make members of the patriarchy rich.