Overview

Keeping things whole presents the ongoing development of the multidisciplinary artist Manuel Mathieu’s visual language, which challenges semiotic convention and cultural approaches to physicality, nature and spiritual legacy. Mathieu’s most recent body of work, created over a period of two years, continues his exploration of ‘the study of apparition’ and introduces his ceramic sculpture practice.

Keeping things whole presents the ongoing development of the multidisciplinary artist Manuel Mathieu’s visual language, which challenges semiotic convention and cultural approaches to physicality, nature and spiritual legacy. Mathieu’s most recent body of work, created over a period of two years, continues his exploration of ‘the study of apparition’ and introduces his ceramic sculpture practice.

Apparition 3 (2022) considers how moments of apparition take shape, visually and emotionally. The artist began by applying acrylic to the canvas and allowing the paint to find its own forms, setting these apparitions or peaks of energies into motion. Study on an Apparition (2020), an earlier work from the same series, was conceived by washing thin layers of ink until this repetitive action rendered them indistinguishable, thus allowing Manuel to witness the image emerge – a process of discovery. 

At times, Mathieu creates works that unintentionally crystallise as ‘autoportraits’: artistic expressions that encourage the artist to reflect on himself, as if this element was mimicking something inside of him. Figure becoming (2022) explores what it means for a figure to appear within the painting’s materiality, while Autoportrait-0322 (2022) appears as an amalgamation between a figure and a landscape.

Mathieu is fascinated by humanity’s relationship to nature. The Birth of Nature 2 (2022) looks at the moment before and after the creation of Nature. Interested in the grandiosity, beauty and unattainability of the ultimate act of Creation, the artist aims to accentuate our embedded familiarity with Nature, which precedes the systems of logic we apply to the world.

Portal (2021), an installation consisting of burnt cotton and a set of ceramic balls placed selectively within and around the fabric’s holes, challenges typical viewing experiences. Ceramic sculpture, similar to the forms created in the exhibition's paintings, is experienced by Manuel as a visual rupture – an entity opening up and revealing itself like the violent birth of an idea. The works’ symbolic elements point to something anthropomorphic falling apart.

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