The Last Stroke reviews Manuel Mathieu’s ‘Prémices / Open-Ended’Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 Categories: Features, The Last Stroke, Updates
In a world as incomprehensible and complex as ours, it is not surprising that when the MAI (Montreal) called for original submissions, they would select Manuel Mathieu’s vulnerable insights on the 21st century. On March 29th 2012, Open-Ended debuted as a series of paintings depicting the birth of an alternative reality that is simultaneously grotesque and inviting in nature.
Open-Ended is a compendium of 7 paintings and 3 drawings, ranging from medium to large in size and created in proportion to the gallery space. The work presents monstrous, quasi-abstract figures alongside glimpses of the artist’s own reality that are strategically suspended in constructed coves and on painted backdrops to set the most fantastical of scenes. The entire experience is then further highlighted by thick, dark, ceiling-to-floor drapery on adjacent walls, which not only adds to the dramatic tone of the work, but allows the viewer the opportunity to clear their minds before being beckoned into the realm of the next painting.
With each piece isolated by a wall, pillar, coloured backdrop, or piece of fabric, the curatorial objectives of Emmanuel Galland are a great service to Manuel Mathieu’s second solo-exhibition. This impressive layout fosters the relation between Mathieu’s alternative reality and the architecture of the space—a fundamental dynamic that often goes amiss—thereby successfully submersing the viewer within the morphed world that Mathieu shares.
Today, when just about anything qualifies as contemporary art, Mathieu exposes a welcomed progression (or regression) towards a compositional-consideration and drive that is representative of quintessential abstract art. Open-Ended offers an inviting escape into a revisionist world that is supremely beguiling in its own fragmented, morphed, and re-constructed way.
“Since 2009, the emerging artist has presented his works abroad, most notably at the Galerie Bourbon-Lally (New York), la Maison des artistes (Paris) and la Galerie Marassa (Miami). In 2011, his works were shown, along with other artists, at the African American Caribbean Design Dispora (London), at the Agwé Gallery at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. This past year, Mathieu completed a residency at Studio Béluga in Montreal in addition to participating in the studio’s Locate Me / Repérez Moi exhibition. In 2012, Manuel Mathieu will present a joint exhibition at the Musée du Montparnasse in Paris. Born in Port-au-Prince in 1986, Manuel Mathieu lives and works in Montreal where he received a combined Bachelors in Visual and Media Arts at UQAM. His works have made their way into several private collections” (Christine Roy, MAI).