Charles Matton retrospective at All Visual Arts
It turns out that there’s another portal to Wonderland, and this time it’s not a rabbit hole in Oxford, but a door on Omega Place in London’s Kings Cross. The door in question, which makes a far more salubrious entrance by any standards, is the entrance to All Visual Arts gallery, currently hosting Enclosures, a major retrospective of the astonishing miniature worlds of Charles Matton.
A French artist from the latter half of the 20th century (he died in 2008), Matton was famous for his perspective-warping reconstructions of artists’ studios - among them those of Freud, Giacometti and Bacon. At a scale of about 1/7th of their original size, the replicas are much bigger than the average dolls house or architectural model, and give the viewer an eerie sense of being overgrown - present inside the room, but not quite.
The scenes’ effectiveness lies also in the painfully beautiful details, such as faithfully faded wallpaper or a broken light socket, and the attention he gives to recreating the mood - with lighting designed to evoke the weather, say, on a wintery afternoon - as well as the context and atmosphere of a given moment.
All Visual Arts has built a labyrinth within the gallery, allowing Matton’s clever use of mirrors and light to have maximum impact in each work. In all there are 30 boîtes (enclosures) on show - all made from a variety of materials, including cast and carved resin, as well as wood, paper, plaster and glass.
Described by the artist as ’objective pieces that are the result of a detailed examination of the "realistic truth" of a certain place,’ these theatrical wonders revisit memories from his own life, as well as a number of interiors drawn solely from his imagination, recreating sensations such as the loneliness felt in an abandoned hotel corridor or the intimacy of a forgotten and disused library. There is no need for smoking caterpillars here, for Enclosures to tell an epic story.