This work belongs to a new series of metaphysical paintings Manuel Mathieu created for Negroland: A Landscape of Desires, his second solo exhibition with Kavi Gupta gallery in Chicago. The show was grounded in what Mathieu calls, “the dream that our desires can be perceived as more than transactional.”
He is speaking of physical, sexual, and sensual desire, of course. The exhibition’s show card features a collaged image of the eyes of Jennifer Jackson, the first Black Playmate of the Month in Playboy Magazine (March, 1965) ironically during the civil rights movement.
In the eleven new paintings created for the show, soil, flesh and sky become a singular, ever-evolving mass. Forms, figures and colors swirl in sensual, primordial pools, as if melted together and poured onto the canvas.
Mathieu says that during the past year working in isolation he came to see his studio as a sort of crucible—a container in which internal and external forces were creating the circumstances for transformation.
“The artist is also a crucible,” Mathieu says. “Even as the inner forces are changing things, the crucible itself is also being altered. Things are merging inside of me and also changing me. What are those forces? With this body of work, I tried to get back to that sense of urgency that pushed me to become an artist and stay in the process with what is necessary.”
Promised loan for Manuel Mathieu: World Discovered Under Other Skies, The Power Plant, Toronto. Additional venues TBA.
Artist Studio The Power Plant, Canada Kavi Gupta, Chicago
Manuel Mathieu, World Discovered Under Other Skies, The Power Plant, 2020