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March 2019

Oeuvre de Mathias Kiss. Le Monde de. mars 2019. Plume Voyage Magazine #plumevoyage @plumevoyagemagazine @plumevoyage © David Zagdoun

from Heritage to Contemporary Art


He did not imagine that he would spend his whole life imitating the virtuous gestures of the Artisans of the Court of Louis XVI. Deformed since he was a teenager by the Companions to reproduce excellence in gold gilding, stucco cornices and trompe-l’oeil painted skies, he deceived his world and decided one day to break all the rules and rebuild them in his own distinctive way. A struggle to exist far from the dogmas of a corporation and the dictates of art. Iconoclastic, uninhibited, whimsical and perfectionist, Mathias Kiss is an artist who is familiar with the codes of classicism that he hijacks to better blow them up in flight. He works to deconstruct the Heritage and he sees in modernity, the past, and seizes its symbols, its objects, in order to fix them in an archaeological dimension. Restorer of icons of Modernity. Distorted time. He receives us in his office Place des Vosges in baggy shorts and a white painter’s blouse, barefoot on the carpet to tell us about his latest works of a freed, contemporary artist.

“In other words, “Without right angles”. I was raised to respect a secular know-how. I was not asked to think, but just to reproduce the gestures. And I wanted to dream. A ledge follows the perimeter of a room? Based on that, I imagined a dilated, distorted cornice that slides from the ceiling to the floor like a coil. For the mirror, I made a mirror where you never find one’s reflection. No flat surface. I started off with a sheet of paper, and then I crumpled it. This gave me the structure of the mirror, exploded.”

“This is the duration of the exhibition of Mathias Kiss at the Beaux-Arts Lille: Eldorado begins in April 2019 and will end in January 2020. The original proposal called Eldorado was completed to fit within the framework of the next exhibition entitled “Once upon a time the artists”. “It will be up to me, scanned as an artist, to denounce the narcissism of the artist. On the glass roof of the Palace of Fine Arts in Lille which has a surface of 400m2, I’m going to paste a pixelated sky that I finished this morning. The sky will be reflected in the pool and then, secondly, I will mold myself into concrete to sit at the edge of the pool.”

Entirely covered with mirrors in which our reflection divides indefinitely as it would in an ice palace, the cube contains a bed, a bar with a bottle of champagne and its two flutes, and a shower room in which a one-way-mirror allows you to spy on the bistro room without being seen. The scenography invites you to experience a dizzying sensory experience. Originally intended to be rented for 1000 nights, the room, or rather the “experience”, is now being rented on AirBnB for 253€ a night.

“A funeral wreath made of plastic flowers with a funny epitaph on the desk of Mathias Kiss: “Son of a bitch”: “It’s a friend of mine, Eric Pougeau, who made this work. He also creates marble mortuaries with text gilded with fine gold: “Son of a bitch”, “slut”, “Asshole”… This is the world of classicism with broken text. I recognize myself perfectly in this universe. I buy everything he does off him. We became great friends. He also makes children’s notebooks, where he combines verbs: “I rape, you rape, he rapes … or “I torture, you torture, he tortures, we torture, you torture, they torture …”

“It’s a kind of bronze-brown. I painted the walls of my office with it. The cigarette manufacturers had to use it as a repellent to replace their historic logo, to repel cigarette consumption. I am in the process of fitting out an apartment that will be entirely painted in this color that symbolizes the prohibition, the censorship. In parallel, I will have in the main room, packets of original cigarettes, which have today disappeared from circulation. ”

“Twice a year, I make installations for the Hermès shoe collections. Hermès shoes are designed by Pierre Hardy, and the Hermès house gives me carte blanche to imagine a decor, a scenography, in offbeat places such as private apartments or, more recently, the Hotel de la Monnaie in Paris. Last season, I reproduced a swimming pool. However, with my friend and collaborator, the photographer David Zagdoun, I noticed that on the images, we could not see the diving board. So, we went to buy a swimsuit and all the necessary swimming equipment. And I integrated myself into the scenery, in total improvisation “.

“Since I come from the Restoration, my dream would be to close the loop. I freed myself with contemporary art, so I would like to return to the Heritage, that is to say, to the public space. I dream that a baroque theater orders from me, as the Opera Garnier did with Chagall … a sky that I would realize in pixels. This technique is old but what is avant-garde is the aesthetics invented by the computer in the 70s. Pixels have already become obsolete and this expresses the nostalgia of our childhood. Pixels are the legacy of the Impressionists, with a playful, techno side … This would be great!

“I never travel. I hate holidays. I walk up the rue de Turenne where my studio is, and down the rue de Turenne where my office and my team are. I am retired, I devote all my time to what I love to do: work. In my life, all my friends are linked to my work. We do “afterworks” at the workshop, occasionally we go to a café and then return to the office to continue until four in the morning! You ask me if I want to ride a camel in Tunisia? And then show off the photos? That’s what children do.”

“My uniform: a navy turtleneck, shorts very often, even in winter. I like freedom of movement.”
Mathias Kiss is represented by the Armel Soyer gallery in Paris, the Alain Gutharc gallery in Paris and the ELLE gallery in Zurich.

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