MICHAEL MATTHYS - LE LONG FLEUVE TRANQUILLE
Public preview Wednesday 12 December from 6.00 pm.
A graduate of the Tournai Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1997, Michael Matthys lives and works in Charleroi. He teaches comic strip art, anatomy, engraving and also lithography. Alongside a mastery of traditional techniques, his work features more unusual materials. Bull’s blood blends with charcoal to paint the portrait of his home town and a cast of characters in his latest two series, exhibited at the Botanique from December 13th to January 27th 2019.
"Les Nez Rouges" (Red Noses), to begin with, portraits of anonymous people in a retirement home, coming together to play cards. Sporting red noses, they are thumbing their noses at death. In a series of rapid strokes, Matthys manages to capture the life and atmosphere of the setting: "I spent a moment with them, listening to their stories about the previous year’s party, and the people, the other players who have already left for the next great party, and also the trip they’re organising to Spain with those who still remain," the artist explains. "Then I watched them play to win, always to win!"
He revisited the same subject for "Déjà mort !" (Already dead!). These blurry but powerful portraits, where paints mixes with the blood, soil and charcoal of Charleroi, manage to capture movement whilst evoking the transformation of flesh into bone. The artist describes them as "a distant echo, we don’t know whether they’re alive or already dead, but they are still dancing, no matter what. In some way, we are all already dead…"
On show for the first time at the Botanique, Michael Matthys’s work is endlessly fascinating, inviting the visitor to reflect on human mortality.