“Repetition” and “recirculation” are words typically associated with mid-twentieth century representational practices. From silkscreen prints to text-based neon works, artists such as Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton, Bruce Nauman, Tracey Emin and Glenn Ligon have contested the rise of consumerism in popular media and culture. Now, the sites in which images are made and circulated have multiplied, as well as the means by which we invest images with values to correspond to our identities. What are the stakes of representation and artmaking in this ‘new media’ landscape?
London-based artist Manuel Mathieu‘s multivalent practice is situated here. By parodying the forms available to him, Mathieu’s paintings, text-based neon works, installations, performances and short films push the boundaries of conceptualism in a time of accelerated flows. Like a rebellious youth, his piece Another one (2014) announces itself vulgarly in blue. Rather than obfuscating language or deliberately destabilizing the sign, Mathieu’s work is monotonous, full of angst, and makes light of the familiarity of words and recognizable images. In turn, repetition and recirculation are themselves emptied out. The limits of text and image are literally highlighted. Departing from his early abstract gestural painting, Mathieu has incorporated installation, performance and short films into his practice. The following is a recent interview conducted with the artist after a studio visit in Montréal.