The Alison Jacques Gallery presents a modern look into the history of art’s interpretation of mortality, violence and human conflict with this exhibition by Mathew Weir. Weir has gained a reputation throughout Europe for brutally delving into the psyche of humanity, whilst at the same time disengaging with the viewer by reinforcing the surface of art. Through the works displayed in ‘The Fractured Word’, the history of man’s artistic interpretations of otherwise unspeakable anxieties are rediscovered and forced into the viewers’ conscious.
Dazed Digital: What is the core of this show? How do the seemingly opposite themes and mediums come together?
Mathew Weir: The title of the show, ‘The Fractured Word’, alludes to the idea of a break in language; something that cannot be, or struggles to be addressed through language. The work, both the paintings and sculptures, formulate visual ideas where words or language may fail, or seem insufficient. A lineage of themes runs through the work, weaving together ideas of oppression and domination, mental and physical suffering and their possible opposites; emancipation, escape and death.
DD: Was it significant to the theme to have a multi-media exhibition?
Mathew Weir: Within the paintings there is the notion that they are not just paintings of objects but paintings of painted objects or objects that have already been painted in someway. And in turn the sculptures in the show are also painted objects, which like the paintings, have undergone a shift or change in medium and representation; a pillow made of plaster for example. Not only does the material of some of the plaster sculptures hint towards the ceramic objects of the paintings but there is also a subtle conceptual undercurrent, with the use of iron and steel in ‘Trace and Restraint’ as it can be related to the shackles of slavery. The bronze materiality of ‘On the Threshold of Eternity’, an inverted black tie representing a noose, is specific to the conveying an idea of weight; the noose being weighed down by a body or a sense of emotional weight; the black tie also symbolic of morning dress.
DD: What specific issues do you intend to tackle?
Mathew Weir: The works brought together in ‘The Fractured Word’ have notions of mental illness, slavery, death and racism at their conceptual axis. These subjects or issues, explored through historical artifacts as well as domestic objects, move from the historically distanced to the familiar.
DD: What iconography do you draw upon?
Mathew Weir: The work draws on and references a wide range of visual, cultural and literary sources.
DD: Do you think you employ and manipulate pre-existing symbols and signifiers?
Mathew Weir: My intention is not to manipulate pre-existing symbols but, in a sense, to work with them. Within the sculptures there is the bringing together of known objects; a chair and a belt, pillows and cushions. These sculptural works are able to suggest narratives as well as allude to emotional states, whether violent or melancholic.
DD: Is it intentional to imply a feeling of tension and uneasiness?
Mathew Weir: I don’t think you are able to use images or explore subjects that are culturally unsettling without them creating a certain discomfort for the viewer. I don’t select imagery to intentionally achieve this, but am aware that it is a factor. My selection is often driven by what I myself find uncomfortable and unexplainable, whether it be the historical horrors of oppression and racism or the strange release or escape of suicide. My intention is to explore and ask questions.
Mathew Weir: The Fractured Word, Alison Jacques Gallery; 25 March - 7 May 2011