Matias Sanchez at Galerie Zink: In Ictu Oculi

Following Matías Sánchez’s debut in Asia, we are proud to present his first solo exhibition at our gallery, titled ‚in ictu oculi‘. Featuring 88 paintings produced in the last two years, the show is a feast for the eyes. Click here for a list of available works.

In Ictu Oculi: blink and you’ll miss it

The show title is in latin, and translates to ‚in the blink of an eye‘.

It is a reference to a painting of the same name by Juan de Valdés Leal, Baroque artist born in Seville in 1622, whom Matias always admired for his mastery and irony. The painting features a grim reaper extinguishing a candle, above which says ‚in ictu oculi‘, a symbol for life going out like a candle. There is only a moment that separates life from death, and nobody is above it. Compositionally, the painting is abundant with objects that represent vain pleasures and earthly glories, akin to paintings by Matias. However, although the painting is cynical, it is also somewhat humorous in the way the grim reaper looks at the viewer, as if posing for the snapshot, or caught in the act awkwardly. Similarly, humor is always in Matias‘ paintings, even if the title suggests something more mundane or sombre.

Las Postrimerías by Juan de Valdés Leal Las Postrimerías by Juan de Valdés Leal
Left: In Ictu Oculi
Right: Finis Gloriae Mundi

Valdés Leal’s ‚In Ictu Oculi‘ was commissioned by Miguel de Mañara for Hospital de la Caridad, Seville, alongside ‚Finis Gloriae Mundi‘. The two paintings make up ‚Las Postrimerías‘, or The Afterlife, and continue to hang in its original location today, where it still functions are a care facility. Although built for very practical purposes, the architecture is the pinnacle of baroque design with excessive extravagance. Thus these works play a significant role in art history and for Matias personally.

To pay homage, he frequently draws from these works throughout his oeuvre. But for this show he painted two paintings with the same titles, inspired by his favourite artist. The original paintings are gruesome, highlighting the futility of worldly pursuits, ironically hanging in a hospital as decorative as a grand palace. This idea grounds Matias, reminding him that we too often live without considering the gravity of our existence, instead worrying about frivolous and surface things.

Paintings by Matias Sanchez Left: IN ICTU OCULI, 2021
Oil on linen
250 × 200 cm (98 ⅜ × 78 ¾ inches)
Oil in linen
290 × 300 cm (114 ⅛ × 118 ⅛ inches)

Mastering Artistry Off The Beaten Track

Matías is a self-taught artist that grew up in a painter household. He’s learned to mix his own colors using pigment and oil, to mix varnishes, and to put them on canvases since he was a child. Since his father, also a painter, had an extensive art library at home, Matias simply continued to paint in his own way and never went to an art academy. He devoured the library, visited The Prado Museum in Madrid to learn everything he could about painting.

For this reason, his painting is a lot more guttural and free, and his understanding of painting is so personal. Through his keen self study, he blends expressive brush strokes with figurative painting, as well as rich, baroque compositions. With impasto, thick brushstrokes, Matias creates a body of work that is a self deprecating homage to painting. In fact Matias uses paint not just as colors but as sculptural building blocks to construct his iconic figures. Such gestural painting, intense self study, coupled with a daily commitment to his craft is a testament to the artist’s passion and reverence for painting.

Oil on linen
73 × 60 cm (28 ¾ × 23 ⅝ inches)
Oil on linen
73 × 60 cm (28 ¾ × 23 ⅝ inches)
Oil on linen
97 × 130 cm (38 ¼ × 51 ⅛ inches)
Oil on linen
97 × 130 cm (38 ¼ × 51 ⅛ inches)
Oil on linen
27 × 35 cm (10 ⅝ × 13 ¾ inches)
Oil on linen
55 × 46 cm (21 ⅝ × 18 ⅛ inches)
Oil on linen
73 × 60 cm (28 ¾ × 23 ⅝ inches)

What’s In A Name?

To appreciate Matias‘ works, it is important to note that, for him, the titles of his paintings are „mere excuses to make a painting“. The titles come after the painting is completed, not as a starting point. For the viewer, it is common practice to read an artwork’s title and try to infer what is the intention behind it. Or a painting would be accompanied by a little text to explain the context or guide the viewer’s interpretation of elements in the work. Kind of like what I am currently writing, as, indeed, it is always interesting to get into the brain of the artist. But Matias insists on letting the painting speak before learning about the title in inspired. He makes a comparison to classical music and literature:

„For me a painting has to arouse something, like a Chopin or Beethoven sonata for example. You have to let the receiver be free before the work, and not give too many clues…Painters are often asked to explain our paintings in a literal way. But the paintings are already painted, no more is needed. Think of a writer being asked to explain his novel with pictures. By this I mean that painting has its own codes and should not need to be explained with another discipline such as literature.“

Although Matias simply creates for the sake of creating, not to tell a narrative, each work still has a fascinating title that come to him after the piece is completed. Speaking to Matias, the explanation of each title revealed far more significantly about the artist than the paintings themselves. The paintings‘ titles indicate his humor, considered nature, deep knowledge in the history of arts and philosophy. They are a tongue in cheek reference to great masters in art, literature, musical history such as Vincent Van Gogh, Constantin Brancusi, Frida Kahlo. While they are often a humorous homage to these greats, Matias shows incredible sensitivity to what is the life of an artist, and just as a human on earth.

‚In Ictu Oculi‘ at Galerie Zink, Waldkirchen
July 17th – October 10th, 2021

Viewing room here

Matias Sanchez: 'In Ictu Oculi' Matias Sanchez: ‚In Ictu Oculi‘ at Galerie Zink, Waldkirchen

About The Artist

Born in 1972 in Tübingen, Germany, Matías Sánchez is a self taught artist currently living and working in Seville, Spain. Through his own exploration, the artist developed a signature style of vivid painterly surfaces as a backdrop against spirited characters and objects. To him, painting is simply about painting, and indulging in the joy of doing so. Each work is an exploration of colors, paints, and the language of painting. He pays homage to Post-Impressionist artists such as Paul Gauguin, and cites Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning as inspiration. At times smoothly rendered, at times crudely abstract, the artist uses recurring images including sausages, bones, rats, people with menacing expressions, to form grotesque dreamscapes, exploding with energy. The results are striking, intense displays images and colours.

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