Past: October 31 → November 30, 2014

Just like Bruce Chatwin used notebooks to depict in an incredibly sensitive and human vision a today lost Australia, this other Anglo-Saxon globetrotter, Matt Wilson, creates through photographic wanderings ineffable images of the several countries he came across following encounters and the feeling of the moment. It is a matter of a few yet so special photographs, almost trifling in their choice of subject, far from the contemporary photographic tendency in their interest for small dimension, forcing us to stop and gaze to grasp their very details. They often seem somehow damaged, corroded cause of the outdated films the artist uses. The visual result is opalescent : a very striking grain and a decadent light create intimate shadow areas in the night or a coal and foggy rendering in the daytime scenes. This random shot technique combining the incident of the film with the photographic point of view sets the basis of Matt Wilson’s peculiar language. It ends up in a blurred perspective and leads to a poetic swing. Little by little, this visible pattern structures it all in passing into a narrative form, revealing fictional territories where the awaken dreams show.

The scenes Matt Wilson shot are timeless. They might allude to a Breughel landscape or a romantic description of a 19th century English literary page. Between reality and the fantasy, the artist knows how to pull us, almost brutally, into a cut-throat street toe-to-toe with sleazy transvestites, into a black children boxing game whilst the eye holds on, clinging to the faint vision of an old American automobile on another photograph… So many almost surreal situations that tend to bring the American movies of the 60s to mind. Obviously, Matt Wilson doesn’t really wish to translate reality but rather to trace back to an instant as felt or dreamed (instead of one that was seen or passed by). A kind of infra-thin photography emerging from a fraction of space and time…

He first photographed Europe then his home country, England, but also in France — a country he has some affinity with — without leaving aside Eastern Europe where he frequently goes back between trips to Cuba. More recently, he wished to roam a larger territory, a continent in fact, the United States, where he moved ten years ago. One could have been anxious about those countries, since the American photographers have so wonderfully dealt with it but here again his surprising vision enlightens fragments of landscapes and burnt faces under a brutal sun which finally goes down over this rugged country.

The light is so white or, on the contrary, so faint that the watercolour perception of those scenes captured tones below the chromatic capabilities of the photographic medium is misleading. One could compare this work to a “pictorial metaphor” or even talk of a pictorial drift if his characters weren’t so anchored in their time and everyday landscape. If Matt Wilson presents us with what he sees through a poetic prism, he also depicts our contemporary society via rough or sometimes poor subjects, tough not diving into the sordid or tragic aspects of it. He sets an attentive and considerate look on them, with a discrete melancholic humanist yet slightly English tragi-comic gaze. The “humanist” tradition wouldn’t reject him in so far as he shoots the “photographic instant” praised by Cartier-Bresson. However, Wilson is no reporter, he diverts reality’s meaning towards an aesthetical and emotional blow that shakes us deep down inside.

Christine Ollier
  • Opening Thursday, October 30, 2014 6 PM → 9 PM
03 Le Marais Zoom in 03 Le Marais Zoom out

17, rue des Filles-du-calvaire

75003 Paris

T. 01 42 74 47 05 — F. 01 42 74 47 06

Filles du Calvaire

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 6:30 PM
Please note that the gallery will observe its usual hours from May 11 to May 16, then from May 18 it will open Thursday — Saturday 11 AM to 6:30 PM

The artist