Gifts attach themselves to certain people and there is no explaining how. Can we predict what education and opportunities will produce a great musician or sports player? Not fully. It was my job, ten years ago, to teach painting students at the University of the Arts in London. For some reason, when one of them held a brush and made no more than two marks with it, the results were always more electrically alive than when any other student spent a whole day struggling to persuade pigments on a canvas to speak. In other words, it has struck me ever since I met him that Vasilis Matosian is a painter of exceptional quality.
The electric charge generated by Matosian’s brushwork is at once fingertip-immediate and lastingly resonant in the mind. Whatever the image on the canvas is to be – whether a still life or a figure – one senses a tremor of speculative hesitation. Shall this body be here at all? Shall it interrupt the blank and open space? And in what sense could this mark – this deposit of pigment – become a body, a self-contained entity with volume and with presence?
Decisions are made: actions are taken; slowly and carefully, a lovely affirmation arises, yes here the painter chooses to say ‘cup’ or ‘grapefruit’ or ‘cloth’ or rather chooses to sing those modest, hand-friendly adjuncts to everyday life. Whatever is sung is thereby made valuable. Our power of attention is provided with a home: and one notes the care with which Matosian establishes the space that is proper to each object, the type of rectangular room that it chooses to inhabit.
Yet always, the tonal restraint and the slow pace at which the paint has gathered weight keep open the possibility that instead of song, there might have been silence. For as any painter implicitly knows, every act of attention is also in some sense an act of inattention. Devoting myself to this bottle of olive oil or to that red pepper, do I not turn my back on the illimitable, unmanageable world that otherwise surrounds me? Indeed, facing this object in all its comfortable colour and weight, am I not also turning away from my own self?
Answers to those doubts suggest themselves. Rather than a solid wall of pigment, the canvas might somehow constitute a window on the world or a mirror to the mind. A large and extraordinary new painting by Matosian entitled Smile (To Fall) sees the canvas assuming both aspects at once, along with a third, that of a receding veil. Its traced brushwork enacts a surrender – to memories, to lost love, to what now is not.
With this recent venture, Matosian declares that whatever the size of his canvases, the agenda of his art is panoramic. It encompasses not only what our hands and eyes agree upon (these bowls, these vases) but our phantom limbs: it includes dark matter in its physics. Subtly, the precarious and translucent gestures of Smile seep into the patient, concrete impastos of the still lives and complement them. What the painter had looked at is not actually here, no more than are his memories. What actually is here, these canvases, can no more be accounted for than can the urge to sing. Painting is the impossible place where these vertiginous thoughts meet: a ‘rainbow’s end’, therefore.
29 November 2022
Born 1990 in Larnaca, Cyprus.
- Rainbow’s end; still lifes and a smile, The O Galley, Larnaca, Cyprus
- ‘Light; A beginning’, Apocalypse Gallery, Nicosia, Cyprus.
- ‘The Balloon’, Apocalypse Gallery, Nicosia, Cyprus (co-curated by Nina Paszkowski).
- ‘Oranges, Toothbrushes and Other Stories’, Cornaro Institute, Larnaca, Cyprus.
- The O Gallery, Summer Group Exhibition, Larnaca, Cyprus.
- Larnaca Biennale ‘Limitless Limits’, Pierides Museum, Larnaca, Cyprus.
- ‘Summer Exhibition’, Apocalypse Gallery, Nicosia, Cyprus.
- ‘Show Home’, Safehouse 1, London, UK (curated by Chris Thompson).
- ‘Opposites’, Municipal Gallery, Larnaca, Cyprus
- ‘Visions of Existence’, E.KA.TE space, Nicosia, Cyprus.
- ‘5th Plein Air’, E.KA.TE space, Nicosia, Cyprus.
- ‘Engagement and Entrapment’, Zmart Gallery, Nicosia, Cyprus (curated by Diana Ali).
- ‘Girl Rising’, Apothiki 79, Larnaca, Cyprus (curated by Evi Palas).
- ’50 years E.KA.TE (Cyprus Chamber of Fine Arts)’, Evagoras Lanitis Centre, Limassol, Cyprus.
- ’50 years E.KA.TE (Cyprus Chamber of Fine Arts)’, Famagusta Gate, Nicosia, Cyprus.
- ’50 years E.KA.TE (Cyprus Chamber of Fine Arts)’, Municipal Gallery, Larnaca, Cyprus.
- ‘Art Exhibition’, Peri Technis, Larnaca, Cyprus.
- BA Painting Degree Show, Camberwell College of Arts, London, UK.
- ‘Base’. Camberwell Fine Art students, Shoreditch Town Hall, London, UK.
- First year BA (Hons) Painting students, Camberwell College of Arts, London, UK.
- ‘Two invitations: Petros Moris and Vassilis Christofi’, Point Centre for Contemporary Art, Nicosia, Cyprus (curated by Evangelia Ledaki).
- Artion cultural association, Peri Tehnis, Larnaca, Cyprus.
- ‘5th Plein Air’, Zygi, Cyprus
- ‘Honorary studentship’ at the Royal Drawing School
- BA (Hons) Painting at Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts, London (First Class).
- Erasmus exchange programme at Complutense University, Madrid.
- Foundation in Art and Design at University for the Creative Arts, Farnham (Distinction).