|When most art enthusiasts think of pointillism, the first names that come to mind are those of the great French neo-impressionists Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. After all, what art lover could ever forget the first time they laid eyes on Seurat’s iconic masterpiece Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte or Paul Signac’s technically perfect Breakfast? Capable of producing truly unique images and profoundly difficult to master, pointillism has virtually become a lost art over the years that few artists have been willing to tackle and that even fewer have been able to master.
That’s where the recently deceased modern genius known as Francois Mathieu comes in. Known for reviving a technique that has long ago been classified as a thing of the past and even taking it to bold new heights, Mathieu is the creator of a large body of truly vibrant, thought-provoking work that is simultaneously a nod to the neo-impressionists of the late 19th century and something completely fresh that has never been seen before.
Take Mathieu’s incredible scene Pink Elysium for instance. Brought to life via the use of bright, juicy pinks, blues, and greens, it may remind the viewer of Signac’s The Papal Palace, Avignon almost right away. Both display an undeniable mastery of the challenging pointillism technique, but Mathieu takes his technique to the next level, giving it a living feel via bolder, more organic brushstrokes that help draw the viewer in and make him feel like he is truly part of the scene.
The same difference can be seen when you compare Mathieu’s beautiful Footpath to the Small House of My Grandmother with Signac’s masterpiece Harbor at Marseilles. Again we see the use of similar color palettes, but to very different effects. Harbor has a more transitory feel due to the smaller, more reserved brushstrokes and muted tones used while Footpath almost seems to breathe and have a heartbeat due to the freer application of the points of color and the brighter tones actually used.
Mathieu manages to imbue his still lives with the same degree of living, breathing spirit. The setting and subject matter of his Pineapples and his Still-Life with Persimmons is reminiscent of similar masterpieces such as Seurat’s Bouquet in a Vase. However, the way Mathieu is not afraid to use many different colors to illustrate his subject matter give his paintings a sunnier, more whimsical feel than Bouquet, which is much more reserved, muted and somber.
Last but not least, we see Mathieu adding a very special touch to the classic feminine portrait by using his love of color and his uninhibited method of applying paint to canvas to create portraits that almost seem to live and breathe. Take, for example his City of My Childhood and compare it to a work such as Young Woman Powdering Herself by Seurat. Seurat’s woman is regal and undeniably unique, but she is far more stylized and reserved because of the artist’s scientific approach to structuring his figures, his smaller brushstrokes, and his more muted color palette. Mathieu’s figure is a more inviting figure with laughing eyes that invites the viewer to come and hear her story and view the city in which she lives through the eyes of the child version of Mathieu… and what viewer could possibly resist?
All in all, the work of Francois Mathieu represents a fresh, bold new approach to an already well-respected and well-liked artistic style. He has not only mastered its intricacies and difficulties perfectly, but he has taken things a step further and freed it up to become something far more organic and natural-feeling than it ever was under the old masters, making him a highly important figure in the eyes of modern art experts and art lovers alike.