I started this work in 1997 as I entered art school (my admission was made possible with a portfolio and an interview since I was not graduated from high school that I left at 17). My interest for traditional painting increased during these years and the school offered beautiful studios, access to all materials possible and great teachers. I focused on oil painting on canvas mainly even though I experimented all kinds of possibilities with acrylics, pigments, skin glues on various surfaces. The vocabulary used was still life, landscape, abstract geometry, vanity and figures.
In 2001, after graduating my BFA, I had a quite large new studio and decided to protect walls and floor with a black polypropylene foil, same as used in farming, in order to continue a series of relatively large canvases (200x200cm).
At that time I started to get a bit bored by the traditional medium and its process: stretching canvas, priming surface, grinding pigments etc..
During a stroll in the countryside I found a cow bone, probably part of a leg, I brought it to the studio and painted it directly on the foil with acrylic paint
I really liked the result, a white, grey big bone on that black background. However, I could not get myself to cut out the format and stretch it as a canvas, as I was not satisfied with the esthetic of that plastic material.
At the same time a friend of mine had given me a stack of silk paper sheets that I could eventually use, which I stored in a corner of the studio.
One day I wanted to tidy up my studio and saw white acrylic drops on the floor (covered with foil) that had fallen on a piece of silk paper by chance probably during an exciting painting session.
I automatically picked it up and realized that the paper with dry paint on perfectly peeled off the foil.
By accident I had found the solution to extract the bone from the foil. I decided to glue sheets of silk paper with acrylic medium on the foil where the bone was painted. The result was a success: when the layer of paper dried I could peel it off perfectly from the foil with the painted bone on it.
It resulted in a large painting on paper with really interesting qualities (Les Os). Since then I have been developing this technique. I named the black foil the source (348 x 330 cm.) because that is the origin of all my paintings, and the silk paper paper M because I process it for transparency.
I continuously paint signs, shapes and colors on the source, and am able to extract them by applying and peeling off the paper M.
I can choose to extract a whole part of the source which results in large formats on free paper M (Zoom back camera!) or to extract just one single painted sign and glue it on a prepared board (Hapax), or create little screens of stretched paper M on wood or acrylic glass frames that would result in what I call light-boxes (Mona De S.).
I sometimes paint directly on the paper applied on the source (Perroquets, Utopia)
When they are off the source it leaves behind an empty space surrounded by remains of the extracted image or other signs that offers me a new start, infinitely. Which means that sometimes painted parts from 2007,
for example, are coexisting with recent parts and will come together at one point. An endless archive of visual samples from different moments within the same space.
The vocabulary expressed there goes from imaginary objects, landscapes, figures to color fields and abstract geometry or unclassifiable shapes. The selection for a final result belongs purely to a vision in the moment.
I paint on the source in the most intuitive way and the result offers a vision and a direction.
I would compare it to improvisation combined with composition in music which is a main influence in my work.
The fact that I could completely appropriate this technique and its way of production is really important to me and I continue to discover new possibilities.
Despite some parts being really demanding I could not delegate them and instead I turn them into a meditative process.
It is clear – or unclear- for me that what I paint are signs accumulated in the brain by observing (or not even directly seeing) my surroundings constantly that somehow find their way out.
I also sometimes think of a treasure hunt: somewhere could be gems to dig out.
The source is the laboratory from where the immaterial becomes tangible. What I offer to the viewer is the result of these moments spent immersed in the source.
Matthieu Séry, Berlin, August 2017.