Mathieu Nozieres’ work brings to mind gothic French novels, historical illustrations yet with a bit more verve and passion, with a sense of mystery and story to each piece. We were able to catch up with Mathieu and bring you some of the workings behind the imaginings of the artist.
When did you begin to have an interest in art? Was there something that sparked that interest?
My interest in art goes back to childhood. Drawing allowed me to understand and analyze both my surroundings and my inner world. It was a great tool for expression and personal development. I enjoyed drawing nature, characters and making up stories. The absolute freedom of a blank page fascinated me. I felt autonomy and a certain responsibility within the worlds that I created, which were precious feelings as a child.
Tell us about your art education experience as you learned about your practice.
I have an atypical background: I started by studying European comics (Bande Dessinée) in Liège, Belgium, which is a well known place for it. Then I discovered painting and I went to study it in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. This medium fascinated me and when I returned to Belgium I changed major to continue my studies in painting. After graduating a master’s degree in fine arts I went to the Chinese Academy of Arts in Hangzhou (China). These schools brought me different methods and ways of thinking from which I extracted certain parts to constitute my own approach to painting. I have also spent a lot of time in museums where you always learn a lot.
Who are some of your greatest artistic influences?
Delacroix had a decisive impact on my work. Especially his large paintings like The Death of Sardanapalus or the Women of Algiers. I remember being shocked when I faced these masterpieces for the first time at the Louvre. The strength, vitality and wild beauty of his paintings had a great influence on my work.
What modern day mediums (television, film, photography, modern art, etc) influence your work?
Probably music. Perhaps because it is a medium that does not contain images. In fact, it generates them in the mind of the listener. As painting generates a melody in the ear of the viewer. What differs in form but meets in substance has always interested me. The concept of unity in diversity is one of the pillars of my work.
Where are you from geographically, and where do you make your work now? How have different cultures influenced your work?
I am French. Born near the city of Grenoble, in a small village in the Chartreuse Regional Natural Park. Currently I work in France and the United States. Thanks to various artistic opportunities I had the chance to live and work in China, Russia, India, Morocco etc. From each culture I have kept a small part which continues to breathe in my work.
Is there a specific teacher or figure from your life that really made an impact on you in pursuing your art?
Yes there are a number of them. The contemporary painter Marius Bercea taught me a lot. He was the one who trained me in painting in Romania. The Belgian draftsman Luc Foccroule is also a teacher who had a great impact thanks to his passion and dedication for drawing. In the old masters, every time I see a painting by Delacroix, Gericault or Repin I have a powerful desire to continue to paint, to evolve and give my best.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
Perhaps the act of combining unexpected things together in order to get an unexpected result. Surprising myself is probably my favorite feeling in arts.
What is art, and what’s it for?
It is difficult to describe art. I think we could present it as a certain form of responsibility: Art must be a benevolent hand extended to oneself and to those around us. This hand can be more or less visual, emotional, intellectual, sensory, etc. To each his/her approach!
What are you most excited about moving forward? Any new projects coming up?
I am very excited to continue my career in the United States. The art scene here is very inspiring and I’m sure I can add something interesting with my work. The paintings to come should be heavy as a rock while making the viewer’s soul light as a feather !
What advice would you have for aspiring artists? What factors do you think have contributed to your success?
As a young artist it is important to cultivate your curiosity, to work with passion and enthusiasm, putting in long hours. You should also try to find the right balance between listening to the advice of your elders and making your own choices.
Be yourself, live rich experiences to nourish your work and above all, don’t forget to laugh because life it short!
See more of Mathieu Nozieres’ work at Mathieunozieres.com
Interview by Jessica Libor, artist, curator and adjunct professor.
Copyright Era Contemporary 2020