The Anarchist's Sistine Chapel

A while back I promised to post some text written by David Quigley. It was produced to accompany Stephen Mathewson’s exhibition. Although that show has since been taken down the text is worth returning to as it captures the spirit of the Fishmarket beautifully.

 “We are what we say and do. We are words, images and sounds. We are unique moments in history, but we are also epochs, generations, socio-economic and cultural clichés. Things appear to us and we make sense of them in pictures, stories, dreams, songs. We make sense of ‘the times’ we live in. We make sense of the way everybody behaves around us. With this knowledge, we create ways of seeing the world but also ways of living and exchanging with others.

To try to stress the simplicity of this exchange. Every image (in stories, in music, in pictures) must function at the most basic level. Of course, over time these things become more complex. We react to more and more experiences. We become aware of more and more paths through the world. There are many voices running through our heads, shaping our thoughts and desires, telling us to go down this or that way.

Art says something and has to speak directly to the viewer, recognizing certain common expectations about what makes art art and not something else. As art leaves the comfort of the studio, it begins to engage with a “general public” but also with the history of art and with others practicing and thinking about art. The problem of the common language for dialogue: where to begin? Beginning must be now. Painted directly on the next best wall, piece of cardboard or canvas. There is no time to waste.

The goal might be to make an anarchist version of the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s La Stanza della Segnatura or some other great monumental work. A stateless and godless Vatican, celebrating the mysteries of life and death, but not based on a religious narrative or social hierarchy. Everywhere around us, there are these epic stories hidden amongst the trash and rubble. But how do we begin to take ourselves seriously enough to be able to understand that fact? This was perhaps the most important message that the legacy of the 20th century left behind for us. Celebrating the uniqueness of a single day, of simple materials and spaces. Everyone an artist! (if only it were that easy!).

Stephen Mathewson’s work lives as a sketch. Open, improvising but also unwaveringly driven by a drunken determinedness. These images are fictitious memories. Recollections of a nonsensical story about our lives. The story, our lives, are both bizarre concatenations of events. A celebration of the random decisions that turn into reality.”

–  David Quigley 2010


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