Tiwani Contemporary now represents Manuel Mathieu and is pleased to present Truth to Power his first solo exhibition at the gallery. Mathieu is known for his large paintings, which oscillate between abstraction and figuration. With a distinctive style, at once gestural and expressionist, he depicts the figure in mutation: testing its physical boundaries and merging with the adjoining environment. Departing from purely formal considerations and his work’s filiation from post-war abstract expressionism, Mathieu’s interest in deconstructing the human figure addresses the history of Haiti, in relation to ideas of dehumanisation and resistance.
The exhibition focuses on new, previously unseen work inspired by specific events during the successive dictatorships of father and son, François and Jean-Claude Duvalier. Known respectively as Papa Doc and Baby Doc, their dictatorships are exemplified by violence, trauma, and a coerced national amnesia that leaves those events undiscussed and ultimately forgotten. Works such as 1963, Numa, Fort Dimanche, Madame Max Adolphe, refer to specific times, spaces and people that are closely tied with the history of the country, while others such as The Search speak to the psychological effects of the police state. Here Mathieu paradoxically uses abstraction to deal with traumatic events and to tackle issues around the representation of pain and violence, and by so doing, questioning how art can represent ‘real’ violence without idealisation and exaggeration.