Matthieu Leger is based in Loughborough. Since graduating with a First Class honors degree from university college Falmouth, he has gone on to have successful exhibitions across the UK. From his work at university he was awarded the Sir Richard Ford Award, a scholarship to study from the collection at the Prado Museum in Madrid. He has also been the recipient of various prizes; the Trevor Thomas prize at the Leicester Open 26 exhibition (2014) and the Nottingham Castle Open Exhibition (2015) where he was awarded both the Nottingham Society of Artists Prize and the John-E-Wright Prize. Matthieu is currently showing work as part of the Reportrait exhibition at Nottingham Castle Museum and has been selected as part of the Leicester Open competition 2017.
Describe your practice for us
Essentially my work explores ideas around construction and deconstruction with a focus on what it means to be painting and image making in the digital age.
How long have you been practising and how did you come to it?
I studied Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art and graduated in 2009. I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to study at the Prado museum in Madrid straight after that, and have maintained a practice ever since then.
Some of your works feature historical references and people from the past such as ‘Alderman III’, currently showing in ‘Reportrait’. Where do you source your reference material and what is the behind your selection of such individuals?
The Alderman Series of glitch works, currently showing at Nottingham Castle museum, were commissioned from Nottingham Castle. Working in response to their collection I knew I wanted to create a short series a works. I chose the Alderman paintings to work from based mainly on formal and aesthetic qualities. I guess something I might call: Their glitch potential. My source material comes from the digital environment. My working process Involves creating my source imagery by manipulating and corrupting the information of a digital image (Glitch). I then use photoshop to then build a new image in layers from these corrupted files. I use found images/photographs. The selection of which I choose mainly for their aesthetic qualities as I mentioned above. I enjoy working with figures that have decorative elements to them, and colour. Currently I am working on glitching portraits and figures of native peoples and tribes of the world.
There’s a hint in these works of the original source, should we know the identity of these individuals to understand the work?
I think that to understand the works you don’t at all need to know the identity of the individual. For me it all goes back to exploring ideas around construction and deconstruction or representation and abstraction. The process behind the way the image has been made is what is most important and how one come to question or understand that.
Is there a hierarchy for you to the mediums of painting and photography and how you use them?
There shouldn’t really be a hierarchy in the mediums and the way I use them but…. For me oil painting remains on top. There is ultimately a need to create something with my own hands and what is exciting for me is to be exploring oil painting using images built and deconstructed through the eyes and world of a computer. That is not to say that the digital glitch prints do not hold their own! The vibrant colours, levels of intricate detail and overall aesthetic results I get from the digital prints I could never truly replicate in oil painting, so each has their virtue.
What is the most interesting/inspiring thing you have seen/been to recently, and why?
I saw a trailer for The new sci-fi film by Luc Besson ‘Valerian’. And it looks like it is going to be amazing… I am a huge sci-fi fan so I cannot wait for that! and Alex Honnold free soloing El Cap…. No words… truly incredible.
Which other artists’ work do you admire, and why?
There are so many great and inspirational artists out there that make wonderful work. I’m particularly drawn to artists that balance between abstraction and representation, work interestingly with colour and reveal skill and craft. To list all would be impossible, so here are but a few contemporary ones:
Adrian Ghenie / Daniel Pitin / Justin Mortimer / Gavin Nolan / Paul Wright / Julie Mehretu / Matthew John Atkinson / Pascal Vilcollet / Nigel Cooke / Andrew Salgado / Phil Hale / Jonny Green / Geoff Litherland / Christopher Orr / Matthew Bober / Jonas Burgert / Neo Rauch/
Where can people see your work?
People can see my work on show currently at the ‘Reportrait’ exhibition at Nottingham Castle museum. I will also be showing a couple of paintings at this year’s Leicester open. They can also see my work on Instagram and on my website.
Matthieu will be taking over our Instagram profile during July.
Matthieu was interviewed in July 2017.
Images courtesy of and by the artist apart from where stated.