Matthias Garcia’s art might be considered indecent, but then it would be like Bellmer’s or Balthus’ (to whom he pays tribute in a painting entitled Atlas complex). While Garcia’s work may seem naïve, it is a naivety reminiscent of Henry Darger or Nils von Dardel. One might even go so far as to label the artist’s paintings as “frightening” but no more than Miriam Cahn’s.
Like all these great artists, Matthias Garcia (age 25) lives entrenched in his work which is characterized by two central themes: dreams and childhood. Everything is murky: dreams threaten to descend into nightmares, while childhood harkens back to an ambiguous purity. In that respect, some of the paintings’ titles are misleading: “Don’t you think the fairies have granted my wishes?” By asking the question, a princess outlines a dance step in the arms of an undoubtedly charming prince. But the artist depicts both of them in blue. Could love be as cold as death? Could it reflect the disturbing sexualized jungle that surrounds them? What’s the significance of the turgescent plants, pink vulva, foamy lace, enormous butterfly and the skeleton head of a fish adorned with a pink bow?
In the same way, neither Matthias Garcia’s ondine nor his mermaid could ever appear in a Walt Disney cartoon. The first is mutilated; its arms end in two stumps – to what “lack” does this recurring motif refer? The second is equipped with a forked tail where each extremity forms a varnished toe nail.
Although it’s comprehensible, Matthias Garcia’s work is nevertheless meaningless. It is a product of the imagination, it emerges from the unconscious. In that way, his work is an offering to the senses. It’s up to the viewer to invest it with their fears or fantasies. Matthias Garcia is unarguably a sensitive artist, and while his work does relate to “poetic emotion”, it’s more comparable to the dark poetry of the Surrealists.
Title image: Atlas Complex – oil on canvas – 2017 – 150x150cm.
This article was originally in French published on Art Critique by Guillaume de Sardes on August 24th. You can read that article here.