While Manuel Mathieu’s (b. 1986, Haiti) trajectory may be easily traced to his Haitian upbringing, his work articulates his positionality from a multitude of realities and perspectives. Reposing on his own multiplicity, the abstractness of his work conveys the abundance in existing at the intersection of racial, geographical, and cultural identities.
Mathieu’s abstract imagery taps into the unrepresentable and elusive — he offers emotional and spiritual nuances that post-structuralist critiques neglect. He presents historical paintings that rely on emotive and speculative thinking as a form of knowledge production. He abandons figurative or didactic western traditions for a more interactive mode of interpretation where the viewers are actively participating in formulating their understanding of the work. Mathieu’s practice brings much needed vitality to the otherwise definitive character of painting by allowing the meaning of his work to be context-dependent.
He expands his artistic repertoire to delve into subjects that investigate themes of historical violence, erasure, as well as Haitian visual cultures of physicality, nature, and religious symbolism. He takes us along a journey that brings pleasure and purpose in being vulnerable and ever-changing. Marrying abstract and figurative techniques, his compositions carve out space for us to reflect on Haiti’s transformative heritage while inviting us to consider the different futures the act of remembering creates. After all, this is what Mathieu’s evocative paintings incite in us: a sense of polyphonic reality that forgoes absolute truth and draws from our collective imaginary.