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Architect of Illusions: Charles Matton's Enclosures

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By Kisa Lala

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Sculpteur de Nourissons - detail © Charles Matton, Courtesy All Visual Arts, Photo: Tessa Angus

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Sculpteur de Nourissons © Charles Matton, Courtesy All Visual Arts, Photo: Tessa Angus

A retrospective of handmade miniature interiors by the Parisian artist Charles Matton is on exhibit in London's All Visual Arts gallery. Matton, who died in 2008 of lung cancer, built 'Boxes,' that recreated artist studios and mise-en-scènes, emotive still-frames of inhabited interiors, empty hotel hallways, lonesome ateliers and imaginary boîtes. Poking one's head inside one of Matton's enclosures is being Gulliver trespassing into another reality and expecting the room's lilliputian occupants to return any moment.

The fascination with doll's houses is that we glorify our need for tidying and collecting objects with imperial strokes and a make-belief sense of omniscience. Replicating the world exactly had been Matton's passions, and his artistic journey began with painting hyperreal interiors that he eventually extrapolated into three-dimensions, creating rooms with walls exactly as he would have painted them on canvas, drawing cracks on the patina, filtering sun and shade on the furniture, miniaturizing the effects of light itself.

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Alberto Giacometti Studio - with hand © Charles Matton, Courtesy All Visual Arts, Photo: Tessa Angus

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New York University Club Library I -2002 - © Charles Matton, Courtesy All Visual Arts, Photo: Tessa Angus

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An imagined studio: Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's Attic.© Charles Matton, Courtesy All Visual Arts, Photo: Tessa Angus

Reduced to a scale of 1:7, the boxes use mirrors and light to project an anamorphic, miniature wonderland, in which our sense of perception is enhanced rather than being diminished: The wires and outlets, chipped wood, dust and stains, the slant of a picture, a crooked frame, a curtain's crease and mirrored reflections astonish us with details that would likely be overlooked if the same room were at eye-level. Seeing is amplified. Our eyes sweep entire vistas instead of vision being patched together by our consciousness.

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Painter's Studio, Sue on the Sofa - © Charles Matton, Courtesy All Visual Arts, Photo: Tessa Angus

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Charles Matton inside one of his Boxes © Charles Matton, Courtesy All Visual Arts, Photo: Tessa Angus

It is not easy to suspend disbelief. At times we may be fooled by Photoshopped images of trashcan lids masquerading as spaceships, but skilled craftsmen building make-belief film sets to imitate large landscapes understand that the way light falls, or how a fabric folds, and the manner of gravity on a mote of dust can give the game away.

Matton's boîtes are not just an arrangement of artefacts but encapsulate the memory of a fleeting moment. His series of ateliers, Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti's studios and Sigmund Freud's study, were meticulous reconstructions created through exhaustive research of the originals. He painstakingly crafted miniature newspapers and book covers, wall hangings and scaled down sculptures to give the studios the authenticity of a lived-in space, pushing the spectator to the position of voyeur.

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Francis Bacon's Studio - © Charles Matton, Courtesy All Visual Arts, Photo: Tessa Angus

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Sigmund Freud's Study (Day) - © Charles Matton, Courtesy All Visual Arts, Photo: Tessa Angus

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Sigmund Freud's Study (Day) Detail - © Charles Matton, Courtesy All Visual Arts, Photo: Tessa Angus

Jean Baudrillard, who was a close friend of the artist for twenty-five years, described Matton's worlds, "when they are condensed in a marvelously small space, one rediscovers their quintessence. Recreating a space and a scene on a smaller scale convinces us to enter it more intimately." Delighting in his obsessiveness, Baurdrillard concluded that Matton, was "quite certainly a fetishist."

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Alberto Giacometti Studio © Charles Matton, Courtesy All Visual Arts, Photo: Tessa Angus


See more of Charles Matton's works at All Visual Arts Gallery, 2 Omega Place, London N1
Charles Matton: Enclosures: 9th September - 7th October

Text & Interviews: KišaLala.com


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