Do you often find yourself feeling nostalgic for a past that never existed?
Then you might find a kindred spirit in French mixed media craftsman Matthieu Bourel. With a wink to the post WW1 dada movement, the expert collage artist coined the term ‘Dataism’ to describe his artistic process. Like the greatest of his cut and paste contemporaries, Matthieu dives headfirst into our collective photographic graveyard in search of new or perhaps hidden meaning to lost imagery. The result is a surreal, often hypnotic experience, whereby the repeated animation or alteration of human bodies and faces becomes key. Tapping into a collective dream state, the strange juxtaposition of familiar elements feels somehow both universal and deeply introspective. Take his work, ‘An Eye for an eye’, where a gigantic moist eyeball supplants the head of a black and white portrait. Within its gaze, firmly stuck on the past, we discover only ruin. I find Bourel’s oeuvre in many ways an ironic study of the passage of time, an exploration of our obsessive fixation on capturing and reproducing moments that are lost to us. Its characters to me feel often lost or stuck in a state of mind that the artist manages to externalize by his imaginative process. In ‘Emancipation’ we find a young boy seemingly ‘liberated’ from the prison of the family unit. As we sever the ties with our youth and explores an own identity, will we also lose that emotional connection with our slowly fading past? And will the person we then become be better for it or be forever haunted by the mirage of how things used to be? Does the artfully manipulated reality of ‘Fakenews’ threaten to numb our senses to a point where we lose our ability to tell fact from fiction, lie from truth? The answer, as always, lies within us to discover, but thankfully artists like Bourel push us to ask the question.
My conclusion is simple, for those craving food for thought, have a taste of Matthieu’s body of work, I doubt it will leave you hungry.