Prelude to a Fireworks’ Display, 2015
Acrylic on canvas
76 cm x 127 cm
Peter Larocque commentary
Paul Mathieson has created a signature style that depends on the deft use of visual language. He carefully orchestrates colour relationships, complex perspectives and the simplification of form as well as skilfully handles line, pattern and texture to achieve overall unity in his compositions. His paintings are complex narratives – thoughtfully crafted, filled with personal allusions and rife with commentary not only on society, time and relationships but also on the mysteries human motivations.
Mathieson’s work, Prelude to a Fireworks’ Display, is enigmatic. The space depicted is reminiscent of a theatrical stage set. A random crowd of posed and gesticulating characters are assembled together in a vaguely familiar place at an unspecified time. Individuals, couples and small groups are involved in their own seemingly independent and unrelated activities – they occupy a dystopia of sorts – sanitized to be sure, but still disturbing. Tapping into the anxieties of contemporary life, Mathieson incorporates cryptic messages and partial texts in his tableau that is filled with puzzling incidents. His work is provocative – it confronts the viewer with the challenge to engage in decoding the ambiguity that he has rendered.