An artist who works primarily as a painter, Manuel Mathieu draws from both his formal art educationand his interest in traditional Haitian artistic customs, mythology and history. Haitian art is itself acomplex of traditions, reflecting its African roots with Indigenous American and European aestheticsand influences. Mathieu’s paintings are an inquiring amalgam of figuration underpinned byabstraction, with something of the intensity of the indefinite forms that Francis Bacon is mostcelebrated for. Exploring the deep rifts of historical violence and erasure rooted in Haitian socio-political history, the artist is particularly interested in probing the verity of events under the Duvalierdynasty, the autocratic family dictatorship in Haiti that lasted from 1957 until 1986 (the year of hisbirth), spanning the rule of father and son: Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier.

Emotive portrayals rather than objective descriptions, Mathieu’s paintings extract elements of natureand religious symbolism in reference to Haitian artistic convention. Twisted figures communicatetrauma and memory, solitude and vulnerability, in a poignant and emotionally confrontationalmanner. They ‘take us along a journey that brings pleasure and purpose in being vulnerable and ever-changing’. Employing the technique of frottage, where paint is applied to canvas before beingmethodically scraped off in layers and a fresh coat applied, the physicality of his process providesanother discordant reminder of painting’s potential to evoke the corporeal.

Manuel Mathieu (b. 1986) is a multidisciplinary artist, working with painting, drawing, ceramics, andinstallation. His work investigates themes of historical violence, erasure and cultural approaches tophysicality, nature, and spiritual legacy. Mathieu’s interests are partially informed by his upbringing inHaiti, and his experience emigrating to Montréal at the age of 19. Freely operating in between andborrowing from numerous historical influences and traditions, Mathieu aims to find meaning througha spiritual or asemic mode of apparition.

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