黄笃： 通过阅读个人简历了解到，你的作品与自己的祖国海地息息相关，绘画似乎处在抽象、表现和具象之间的游离状态，尤其还散发着一种对海地动荡历史的感情。 比如死亡的主题——在你的作品《忠诚》就隐喻性描绘了弗朗索瓦·杜瓦利埃的葬礼，以及种族屠杀。试问， 你在创作时选择了更混浊而阴暗的色调是与这种现实相关吗？或者说是你为什么关注和表现那个动荡不安、充满暴力和死亡的情景呢？
从这个影片中你看不到任何关于暴力的符号。 我将暴力处理成成许多形态，没有试图绘画得“准确”或“可辨认”的。1963 年那场大屠杀变成了一幅没有图像来源的抽象绘画。因为我所关注的是 1963 年那场大屠杀所带来的历史意义上的重量。这幅画是在描述遭受的痛苦，幸存者，屠杀的原因吗？
黄笃： 早在1928年巴西现代主义者就宣告，有宣布的“食人俗”（anthropophagy）是一种为自身利益而“吞食“（eating）欧洲文化的有意识的策略。也许这是一种隐喻，指的是一种”批判性的吞咽“，也是一种被动接受的对抗性吞咽。或许还暗示了一种文化适应的问题。像林飞龙（Wifredo Lam）一样，你的绘画也渗透着加勒比文化的混杂性和复杂性，似乎你的绘画也隐藏着对文化身份的重新界定。所以对你的绘画创作而言，身份对你意味着什么？
曼纽尔·马蒂厄：在海地出生和成长的身份对我所处的位置来说是至关重要的，这是让我所骄傲的。但矛盾的是我艺术的启蒙是来自于西方国家和欧洲的艺术家如 克里斯蒂安·波尔坦斯基（Christian Boltansky）、莫娜·哈透姆（Mona Hatou）、培根（Francis Bacon）、戈雅（Goya）和德库宁（De Kooning）等等。我在向这些艺术家们学习的过程中，我发现他们没有刻意地去追寻自我的身份，但当我凝视他们的作品时，里面所透露出了强烈的自我。
曼纽尔·马蒂厄，《St Jak 2》，布面综合材料，178x160cm，2019（右）
曼纽尔·马蒂厄：对我来说，Twombly 是最具有音乐感的艺术家之一。在音乐中，音符间的融合形成了旋律，这也正是空间和时间形成的方式。我非常欣赏 Twombly 对这些元素的理解和使用，我从他身上生长出了很多东西。再如沃斯 Wols，在我看来，他重新定义了空间。培根则为我展示了另一个精神空间，我们原曾拥有的一部分。这就是为什么我们对他的或积极或消极的绘画和图像感到如此的熟悉的原因。培根说 Twombly 展示给我们的空间是置于我们内在之中的。在这个语境之下，音符是我们的情绪、感觉和感知。当它们浮现，会摧毁我们原有的情感。它的力量存在于这种情感的转换之中，有时候我不能确定眼前的感觉，只是最好的。
?HdM GALLERY Beijing Space
Manuel Mathieu | Wu Ji
Interviewer: Huang Du
Interviewee: Manuel Mathieu
Huang Du: I read from your biography that your work is closely related to your home country Haiti, and painting appears to be in a state of dissociation in among abstraction, expression and figuration, with a special emotion towards the turbulent history in Haiti. For example, the theme of death — which shows in your work ‘Loyalty’ as it metaphorically depicts the funeral of Fran?ois Duvalier, as well as the genocide. May I ask if your choice of using a turbid and dark color tone during creative process is relevant to this reality? In other words, why do you care to depict that turbulent scene full of violence and death?
Manuel Mathieu: My process when it comes to Loyalty was very precise. In my research on that era it was important for me not to be literal in my approach. I considered different perspectives on the dictatorship because I wanted to gather as much information as possible and pay critical attention to the many point of views that exist on this fundamental moment in history.
I wanted to address it with a nonlinear narrative. I focused on dates, places and events that were symbolic. I pondered on the significance of Fort Dimanche, the scene of the funeral— I see it as a contradiction. All of these people around the moving coffin...were they being loyal to Duvalier? Were they mourning, were they there out of fear or both? My work draws from and operates within that complex space where things can’t be singularly defined.
It's a place in which I am trying to make sense of something that escapes me or that has been obscured. Colors are secondary to me. While they are part of my decision process, I don’t believe the symbolic of colors should encapsulate the content of an art work. Colors, as well as other linguistic elements of my paintings are the residue of my thoughts. They give a spiritual access to the work. I believe the equivocal, elusive aspect of a painting to be its most yielding; art mainly operates in abstract worlds. It is through our personal history, our sensibility and understanding of aesthetic that we bring the meaning of a work closer to ourselves.
In the video as you can see there is no sign of violence. I tackle violence and its many shapes without trying to paint "accurately" or "recognizably." The massacre that took place in 1963 turned out to be an abstract painting with no image source. Instead, I focused on the symbolic weight of 1963, due to that massacre. Is the painting addressing the pain endured, the survivors, the reason of the massacre?
This multiplicity contributes to what I am trying to capture.
*Link video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdVK1TNgcDA
Manuel Mathieu, Wu Ji, mixed media on canvas, 80x75inches, 2019
Huang Du: as early as in 1928, the Brazilian modernists declared that ‘anthropophagy’ was a conscious strategy of ‘eating’ European culture for their own benefit. Perhaps this is a metaphor referring to ‘critical ingurgitation’ and passively accepted 'confrontational ingurgitation’. It might also implies a problem with cultural adaptation. Like Wilfredo Lam, your paintings permeate the hybridity and complexity of Caribbean culture. It seems that your paintings also conceal the redefinition of cultural identity. So what does ‘identity’ means to you and your painting creation?
Manuel Mathieu: Growing up in Haiti, your identity is central to your positioning, which you claim pridefully. Paradoxically my first introduction to Art was through Occidental/European artists (Boltansky, Mona Hatoum, Bacon, Goya, De Kooning, Still…). As I was learning about those artists, I noticed that there was no search for identity, it was intrinsic to the work as if I was watching something that was full of its own self.
At 16 years old I thought it was pure freedom. During that time my locality, my sense of belonging saved me because I was making art without having to answer to nobody; I was simply exploring my soul. It is slowly by showing my work to others that the question of identity emerged. I went from exploring my soul to being called an artist, and when I left Haiti, from an artist to a Haitian artist.
Being a Haitian artist came with certain expectations, a predefined identity whose connotations derailed from what I attributed to it at home.
Considering I got into art in a quest to experiencing my soul, this question is a distraction and as the work becomes more and more visible it falls under certain power structures that enhance or simplify it, depending on the people's understanding of my identity.
That makes me think of when Breton came to Haiti and talked about surrealism. That is a good illustration of how power structures around identity function because what he claimed to have discovered or initiated existed 30 years ago. The important questions become: where is that understanding of reality coming from, what motivates it? what's at its core?
If anything, Identity is a way to define our spiritual value through the references that we pray to. In my work I try to stay away from identity. I try to be sensitive to the world around me and experience my life through what I do every day, compose with my humanity and leave traces of that experience.
?HdM GALLERY Beijing Space
Manuel Mathieu | Wu Ji
Huang Du: In your creative process, how did you manage the relationship between Haitian folk art and modern painting?
Manuel Mathieu: I don’t really manage it, it happens. And what is folk, especially in contrast to modern painting? I resist these linear narratives that perpetuate structures that seek to contain and contrive our understanding of evolution and hierarchical value.
My sensibility forms out of my youth in Haiti (the colors, the smell, the uncertainties, the poverty, the abundance, people’s generosity) but also through my master at goldsmiths (the students, the teachers, the ideas floating around me, the other).
You talked about hybridity; I experience my hybridity by being emotionally present at different places at the same time. I am not thinking about Haitian cultural expressions without thinking about modern painting because, in my head, they both operate in the same space. The only difference could be a difference of artistic language, or interpretation. I see this conflation as an advantage, it adds layers to how I experience my presence in the world.
Huang Du: Do your paintings conceal a kind of autobiographical narration, and has the symbolic meaning been transferred into the shape, color and structure of your works?
Manuel Mathieu: I was confronted by this question in a recent show I had entitled Nobody is Watching. The show referred to a personal, violently transformative experience. I was hit by a motorbike in 2015 and lost my short-term memory, partially lost my sight, broke my face, jaw and had a severe concussion. With a similar approached to that of Loyalty, Nobody is Watching grappled with my personal experiences of vulnerability, amnesia, solitude, self-destruction.
I think this question you are asking is a fundamental question of art making. What part of the spiritually-imbued object is part of me? Where do I start and where does it begin?
I think mastery of a language is to make its manifestation relatable, make it part of a communal experience the same way that emotions affect us.
?HdM GALLERY Beijing Space
Manuel Mathieu | Wu Ji
Huang Du: I could sense from the pictorial form of your paintings that the application of lines and colors are expressed in ways that are both ethereally and freely, whether it is on canvas or papers, it shows the action of ‘destruction’, which is created through the expression methods of outlining, rubbing, stamping, paint dropping, twisting, smearing, as well as the use of moving and lightsome lines. It highlights the relationships between certainty and contingency, static and dynamic. Thus, what do you think about the expression methods of Bacon and Cy Twombly?
Manuel Mathieu: For me Twombly is one of the most musical artists I know. In music one note fuses with another to compose melody. This is how space and time are created. I love how Twombly understands and uses those elements inextricably. I learned a lot from him. Like Wols, he redefined space for me. Bacon on the other hand lays out a mental space, something that was once part of us. That's why we tend to be so familiar or drawn— positively or negatively— to his images. That space Twombly shows us, Bacon says is inside of us. In that context, notes are emotions, feelings or sensations and as they appear, they alter or sometimes destroy the emotions present before. His strength reside in this transition of emotions, often I am not quite sure what I am looking at. That's the best feeling ever.
They are both very dear to me. I believe we evolve in the same musical and emotional spaces. In our quest for manifestation and appearances of the image, we have very strong similarities.
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