Upon first encountering the new series of works, I find myself in a world I recognize from Matan’s previous series of painting. Like in the series Moonwalks (2013) or The Young Mariner (2015), I am facing melting mountains and fantastic landscapes in phosphorescent and pastel shades. However, as I spend more time in their presence, I realize that this time I am entering this world from a different place. The landscapes that were always there, as settings to be filled by a certain presence, have now moved center stage, becoming the main event.
In this series, I feel that Matan walks a finer line than ever. This fantastical worlds, which are full of colors, textures, and figures whose faces and eyes are hidden from the viewer, demand precision – any deviation may push the painting further away from its meaning. More than these, it is dangerous, certainly for the more organized and methodical among us, to lose control, to summon unknown voices into our room, and hand our brushes over to disorientation. But, just like the figures’ hidden eyes, the paintings in this series wish to say that there is more than meets the eye. Disorientation asks of us to trust the other order it holds, listen to the divine voice/echo, and let it guide us. If in Matan’s previous series I could hold on to the image of the transient house, the structure that promises stability but does not deliver it, in this series there are no walls or roof, no structure to give us shelter. The closest things to an anchor are a kite, a billboard, or pieces of a fence. The unnatural, saccharine colors offer me no comfort, but rather trigger unease, bringing to mind acids and corrosive compounds. The figures in the paintings do not belong to the caves and unfolding landscapes – how did they get there? Are they abandoned in a world which, in the absence of order or grid, allowed itself to expand, grow, and take over the space of the painting?
Two main figures in the painting are the painter’s best friend, a free spirit who found his death at a young age several years ago, and Matan himself. The encounter between the two, which could not take physical shape in our world, can take place in the expanses born from the expanding shapes. For the first time, the painter brings his figure into this world. More than a self-portrait, I see a man who tries to situate himself in the spaces that exist inside him, in an attempt to fathom them. As though until now the landscapes created by this own brush were foreign to him just as they are to the viewer, and only now he dares to be present.
Picasso suggested that “the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” It seems that in the new decisions he has made, Matan transformed the action that is so known and familiar to him from years of painting into a new action. Surrounded by his large scale works, the eye and mind trace a line between the flying kite, the figures in the cave, and the floating man, and in an instant, they all exist in a shared space, which is different and other from our world. A place like this, whose realness is only possible in Matan’s painting, recounts a story through which I can part with the quotidian and give myself to the new action, to the echo that reverberates from the mountains, that fills the caves, that dives into the water. I can sail and float in a place I do not know but does not threaten me, wander through disorientation, without losing touch with reality, wash the dust of everyday life off my soul.
Text by Gil Cohen