Opening reception : Thursday, July 14, 2022 ‑ 6pm
Exhibition and opening at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Sherbrooke
THE TREACHERY OF IMAGES
In 1929, the Surrealist painter René Magritte created his famous work La Trahison des images (The Treachery of Images). In it he depicted a simple tobacco pipe, accompanied by the inscription “This is not a pipe.” Calling into question the connection between a real object and its representation in art, Magritte subverted several centuries of artistic tradition and revealed the artifices of mimetic painting: all works of art are simulacra which imitate in order to “make real.”
Mathieu Valade’s artistic practice explores this betrayal of the real by the image: illusion is the engine of each of his works. Using various media and with a touch of humour, he examines the evocative power of images. For symbols bear inherent meanings; how can they become tools of fiction for constructing visual enigmas? References to art history lay concealed in his works, as in Expressionnisme concret (2014), in which he reworks the uselessness of a famous movement in painting in the latter half of the twentieth century. In this way he reinvents these codes and offers reflections on their persistence still today.
For Mathieu Valade, art is play: the play of scales and forms, but also of perception. The screen, which has been at the centre of his artistic inquiries for several years, appears to be the ideal vector of exploration and illusion. Television is not a mere means of dissemination, but rather a sculptural element. He creates architectures made up of monitors on which images appear to circulate freely and to merge.
And yet it is not with the intent to fool the viewer that Valade uses illusion. His works physically seize the person viewing them in order to involve them in the construction of their meaning. The exhibition gallery is transformed into a theatre of images, and each of these works is transformed into a spectacle one must allow oneself the time to experience. In Impression de paysage (2020), organic motifs unfold in slow motion like ink spots overrunning the screen. This contemplative video painting enables each person to read it in their own way, like a Rorschach test. The public thus has an active role in the elaboration of Valade’s apparatuses, bringing them to life through its presence.
In Valade’s work, therefore, nothing is true, but nothing is completely false. One just has to let oneself play along.