by Oscar Mather
9th - 15th September 2023
Private View 8th September 6.30 - 8.30pm
Oscar Mathers is an architect, artist and writer (b.1994), Paris). Fire, Fire is the artist's first solo exhibition, bringing together etchings, aquatints and drawings. The PResented works have bee created over a period of four years in France, Italy and England.
With an ongoing interest in Cathedral architecture, Fire, Fire explores elements characteristic of the gothic including strong verticals, stone textures, depth, dakrness and light. After the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris in 2019, Mather began to focus his practice towards the fragility of this familiar building.
Intertwining imagery of structureand order alongside melted scaffolds, billowing smoke and Notre Dame's toppling spire, the work acknowledges the vulnerability behing seemingly resilient places. The sllippage between figuration and abstraction within the pieces also evokes the process of structure giving way.
The techniques used to create the works in Fire, Fire echo a material transiion and change of state. Burnt wood, burnt ground, smoke and corrosives used during the etching of the plate create a deep chemical change within the metal. Most of the works go through this iterative process of etching, revising, burnishing, etching again and again until the final state is reached.
Other woks, such as the monotypes and experiemental aquatints, are made in a single, quick gesture. These particular approaches embrace the unpredictable, the accidental and rely heavily on the artist's intuition and judgement. As a result movement and transformation are integral to Mather's printmaking process, further reflecting a state of permanent change.
The triptych of Viollet-le-duc also provides important context to the exhibition. Viollet-le-Duc, the restorer of Notre-Dame in the 1800s, designed the famous Spire which was lost to the blaze. Martin Bessani, an expert on Viollet-leDuc, said that the monotypes ''expressa chaos that viollet-le-Duc tried all his life to suppress''.
Viollet-le-Duc's notebooks, containing intricate designs for Notre-Dame's restoration, are now being used for the Cathedral's current reconstruction. Notably, it is the paper that has stood the test of time in this case, rather than the stone.
Whether through bold charcoal drawings, loose gestural marks or precisely etched lines, Fire, Fire explores the movement between building and drawing, durability and fragility.
Islington Arts Factory Exhibition Archive