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Past exhibition

Terminé le 20.09.20

Présenté dans laGalerie du Soir

Mathieu Van Asshe

Little by little, a change in status occurred between photography and engraving. “Engraving became a mere means of printing and no longer a final goal. By contrast, the ‘accidents’ that always arise in engraving add matter, a little extra touch of soul.”

Today, Mathieu Van Assche continues to work in illus- tration, graphic design and photography, often mixing the various disciplines. But as far as photography is concerned, he has rediscovered the pleasures of film. “As far as carnival is concerned or street photos, I like to work with film with small compact cameras that fit in my pocket. Because there is that idea of being accidental once again. And then comes the wait, before discovering the outcome. And the obligation of choosing, the impossibility of shooting anything and everything as people do with digital photography. Not having everything straightaway; I rather like that situation.”

Through the Carnaval sauvage but also though old photos on which he draws, he explores different facets of the mask. “What I call ‘sabotaged photos’, that goes back a long time. I had done a few of them just for me, just for fun. Old photos found on the flea market on the Jeu de Balle Square. I took them out again two years ago for a small exhibition and I decided to continue the series. I create masks for them according to the picture, to my mood, to everything I’ve seen ... While always working on the originals to give them a second life. If I did not transform them, those pictures would end up in the dustbin or, at best, in the hands of some collector.” With Carnaval sauvage, he went to the very core of that passion for the mask. “The first time I attended ‘Carnaval sauvage’, I was there as a spectator. Now, I am also involved. Being masked means that it is possible for me to experience things from the inside, to have a much more direct contact.”


If the mask is at the heart of his current work, that is not however the result of a deliberate intention. “I did not say to myself: I am going to work on the mask. It is basically an element of aesthetics that I like. In painting, I admire Bosch, Brueghel... That is what I find in ‘Carnaval sauvage’ and in other such events. Over time, I read widely about the subject throughout the world: African, Japanese, Chinese masks ... These are things that attract me aesthetically and, finally, I grad- ually create a coherent world with connections between everything I am doing: monsters, spirits, masks, the pagan feast side of things ...”
And when he is often asked what he is doing exactly, he answers: “I make images. And for me, a photo is an image in the same way as an illustration or an engraving. It is the same approach: arousing reactions through spontaneous creation. I am not trying to deliver a message. By contrast, I’m interested in seeing how people interpret things. The people who look at an image are the ones who bring it to life sometimes by giving it a sense which I had never thought about.”

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