Paul Mathieu

In the current complacency of entertainment culture, the creative act has to remain controversial and subversive. One of the few places left for this possibility, strangely enough, is in craft practices.

My work is an investigation of the role and function of ceramics within culture in general and art in particular. I see ceramics (and pottery) as an independent, autonomous and specific art form and it is this specificity that my work explores, around concepts particular to craft practices, like decoration, function and containment, in a unique relation to various contexts, to time, to history and to human experiences.

My work is a contestation of art, of design and of crafts and of other institutional practices. As such it situates itself OUTSIDE art, outside design and outside crafts as well. It is altogether all of these things and none of them. In our present time, art is mediated, impermanent, nonfunctional, visual, discursive and language based. My work is handmade, very permanent ( a particular characteristic of ceramic materials), tactile, functional in a practical way and based on a direct physical experience in its making and its appreciation. Design is mechanized, multiple, concerned with style and the market place, while my work is again, hand made, unique, stylistically diverse and basically unmarketable...Crafts are largely about exquisite making and taste, particular materials and techniques and, again, about individual style and personal expression. My work is not particularly well made and beautiful, in fact it might easily be considered ugly, the materials and techniques that I use are not that important or even relevant and I long for a certain anonymity, so that when, where and by whom the object is made is at least confusing and at best irrelevant. My intent is to contest and subvert altogether art, design and crafts.

The concepts of decoration and containment (function) are central to this investigation. Decoration for its historical significance but also its relation to excess, exhuberance and celebration. Containment and thus function, for their subversive potential, as a political statement in a world where art is perceived as essentially useless and fundamentally visual. By retaining function, I celebrate the history of the field, but also contest the hegemony of the image in culture now and reafirm the necessity for a direct, tactile experience.

My aim is to reconcile extremes and oppositions, destroy hierarchies and confuse conventions. Contradictions are built-in, embraced and essential.

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