Interview: Mathieu Ducournau
Luca Curci talks with Mathieu Ducournau during the first edition of BARCELONA CONTEMPORARY 2021 at Valid World Hall Gallery.
Mathieu Ducournau was born in Morocco in 1965 and lives and works in Paris. An intuitive and unusual artist, he explored the possibilities of painting on his own before encountering thread and the potential of the sewing machine. He has been exhibiting regularly since 1996, and also collaborates with French luxury brands such as Tailladart and Hermès. Mathieu Ducournau plays with the figurative and the abstract. An atypical artist, he chooses thread as the medium of choice for his artistic expression. The use of thread and the sewing machine carries a lot of meaning for the artist. For him, sewing is first and foremost an act of love, in reference to his mother, whom he watched as a child sewing clothes for her children, repairing the tears in her trousers and making dolls. Mathieu Ducournau counterbalances this act of love with the danger of the sewing machine’s needle. In a second phase, the artist abandons the instrument, working with his hand as his only tool. He proceeds to throw threads on canvas, which remain “En Suspens” (title of his second series). In 2019, Mathieu Ducournau won the ‘Object of the fair’ award at the Collect exhibition in London. The same year, his work was selected for the 19th Issy Biennial devoted to portraiture. In 2020, “Papillon” was exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, as part of the exhibition “Un printemps incertain”. In 2021, he was one of the finalists for the European Prize for Applied Arts, selected from 600 applications. Since the beginning of their collaboration, the Galerie Chevalier has devoted two solo shows to the artist, including one outside the walls, in the name of the Grand Palais during the 2019 Art Paris Art Fair, and in 2021, it will devote an exhibition to him in dialogue with its collection of ancient and modern tapestries.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Mathieu Ducournau – To define what art represents for me is a very intimate question and one that raises an interrogation to which I do not claim to have an answer: what is art? If I had to give a precise and unique definition, I would not succeed. But I will try to be fair. In my opinion, art is history, sensitivity, aesthetics, commitment. In my daily life, art is also work, reflection, research and questioning. But finally, art is everywhere: in a landscape or on my canvas, in a textile portrait or on a picture. Art is essential and essence, past, present and future: it accompanies Man and undoubtedly delivers him from his failures.
LC – What are you currently working on?
MD – I am currently working on butterflies and flowers, using the thread throwing technique.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
MD – I worked on the portrait theme for several years. Then, I focused on the textile rewriting of iconic paintings of art history (“The Mona Lisa”, “The Water Lilies”… ). Today, my work is more focused on themes around nature, with flowers, butterflies, birds.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
MD – The profession of an artist – because I believe that it is necessary to speak about a profession in the sense that to assert oneself as an artist is not enough – offers me today certain freedom which I always sought. I also owe this freedom to the Galerie Chevalier, which supports me at all levels, and allows me to work serenely.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it your medium of expression?
MD – Art is obviously one of my means of expression. Perhaps even more important than language. Through my technique, I express my sensations relative to the world which surrounds me, to the emotions, to the feelings which jostle me when I am in front of a canvas.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival? In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
MD – ITSLIQUID’S vision of art speaks to me. The theme ‘Mixing Identities’ converges with my intention in the realization of a portrait. It is indeed the hidden part of an identity, beyond the aesthetic dimension of a face, that questions me. It is the reality, that is to say, the accuracy in the representation of a person that I seek to present in my work, the fruit of a means of expression thanks to which the possibilities become infinite. It is in this sense that there is a link between the works presented in Barcelona and the theme of the festival.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
MD – I think ITSLIQUID Group can be a great showcase for artists.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
MD – The organization is very good, simple and efficient!