Matthias Garcia "Naive Parade"

6 June - 6 July 2024
Matthias Garcia’s paintings explore the symbolic potential of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Little Mermaid,” and the allegory’s inquiry into the meaning of humanness and mortality. In “Naïve Parade,” Garcia’s first solo exhibition in the United States, the Parisian artist presents a series of paintings driven by his own tender contemplation of mortality. 


In Andersen’s, “The Little Mermaid,” the sea creatures envy the humans outside their utopian, underwater world, since their counterparts on land possess souls that transport them to an eternal heaven after mortal life. The mermaids instead live for hundreds of years and simply cease to exist, transforming into sea-foam. This paradoxical crux of their undersea realm opposes the human condition wherein we struggle within our brief existence, and its meaning, yet transcend in the afterlife to a serene infinity. 
Garcia’s pictures sit squarely between these dueling fantasies, crafting liminal spaces between Earth everlasting and the ephemeral sea. In glowing marine hues, Garcia’s paintings teem with texture and form, rendering worlds that drift like dreams but still remain moored to reality. Delicate figures fade in and out of the landscape, some not fully developed—as if only fragments of life, maybe even a memory in the thoughts of an unknown protagonist. 
Stylistically, the paintings evoke surreal and psychedelic landscapes. Part Alice in Wonderland on acid, part Henry-Darger-in-the-broom-closet pedantry, Garcia’s characters emerge and recede from the depths of their grounds, about to fade into darkness at any moment. Among the delicate swashes of viridians, ultramarines, and violets, one can parse the small plants swaying amongst couples waltzing and a nymph’s head growing out of a flower stem. The brushwork exists threefold through varied tonal washes, delicate line-work, and pointillist flora.


Throughout this practice, a highly specific and intentional style is developed that is equally contemporary and timeless. They are as luxuriant and stylized as pictures from the Belle Époque, but as escapist as something in the surrealist vein, while holding their weight in the nowness of our time. The true power of Garcia’s work rests in its chimeric, individualistic approach to painting, and refusal to settle on a single, concrete reality. In the end, Garcia laments through his images that a fairy tale is only imagined if we decide it can't be real. 
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