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(Born in 1974)

"The surface of things is never a simple surface" wrote the philosopher John Dewey. The recent works of Strasbourg artist Mathieu Wernert fully embrace this maxim as a kind of call to experimentation. 


Pursuing his pictorial research, continuing his will to break the evidence of images, the painter elaborates abstract paintings that are not only made of forms, figures, lines, colors or gestures fully identifiable and clearly delimited. The pictorial vocabulary is composed here singularly starting from a whole of reactions, alterations, surges, excavations, cracks. Playing at the same time of a learned art of the superposition and of a subtle sense of the mixture, the canvas appears as a kind of "playground", of ground of expression with the materials and the visual and emotional properties born from their provoked and new meetings. 


Here, an acrylic from a printer's cartridge will acquire unforeseen qualities as a result of its encounter with acetone, giving an effect of dilution or rust, magnifying the color or on the contrary attenuating it; There, it is the action of a solvent that will pierce the canvas to bring out in a new way, by a sort of escape, a layer of paint until then covered, as if miraculously preserved; another time, it will be the play of a varnish, a glue, a drip that will give birth to one of the components of the image. 


The visible is here always the result, born of the dialogue between the artist and the chance, of a whole of invisible processes, of interactions of which remain only the traces. The image is composed at the same time that it is decomposed. It is composed by its very decomposition.


A painting, it is certainly a surface, but it is also time. The conjugated action of temporalities. Of a mixture that one tries "just to see". Of an effect that surprises the painter, thwarts his horizon of anticipation or his pretensions to mastery, but of which he must wait until it happens to know that it will have been possible. This is the way in which the artist continues the adventure of painting, the meaning that can be given to the fact of painting today, by exploring its potentialities in relation to the present time (the state of techniques, the images that surround us and that form our culture).  


It is this artistic method that paradoxically gives all their depth to the surfaces painted by Mathieu Wernert. The images are like environments. Images-mediums, populated with details, forming sets to be surveyed by the sensibility, in which we can enter, dive, get lost. Material fields which are like so many imaginary landscapes, of which one does not know exactly if they are mechanical or alive, of fields freely offered to the imagination. 



Mickaël Labbé

Lecturer in Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

© Thomas Lang

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