Art in the press


Joseph MATAR, Light Personified by Poetess Andrée Thoumy - Joseph Matar «un moi de lumière»

Talking with the famous painter Joseph MATAR, poetess Andrée THOUMY noted the key points of his views on art and of his own artistic experience in particular, and presents them here together with his own personal vision of the painter’s works.

With expert hands, Joseph Matar moulds his work with light. Drawn from the wells of an intense spiritual adventure and from a singular artistic experience, his play of colors, rose, green, blue and gold, models the almond and olive trees, inundates the stretches of ocean, invades the bountiful harvests and gives form to the shining sheaves that the reapers gather in their arms.

Summer and Autumn, Oil painting on canvas, 98 x 147 cm, Autumn 2006

Tearing us away from mundane reality, the painter projects us into a world transfigured by this multi-colored dialogue, a world soaring from within him, from the cosmos mankind bears within. In a universal language that excites our eyes and is understood by our souls, the work of the artist on both its material and spiritual planes stands as the bond that unites humanity. His particular Word is this dormant clay which is his inner self and to which he gives life and expression. Under the action of color and light, it takes on the rich meaning of a symbol for communication between members of the human race.

To the man of the late twentieth century, prisoner in the dungeon he has made for himself of cement and steel, condition both tragic and thrilling, through his work the artist brings a liberating ferment to put poor, lost mankind back in its truly human dimension, that of the enigma of its soul.

Communing with humanity upstream as well as downstream, the artist encounters his spiritual masters, from Raphaël to Bâcon and Steiner. It is while he listens to the Canticle of the Sun of St. Francis and lives the mystery of Golgotha, the Divine Comedy of Dante and the whole trial afflicting the soul as it undergoes this drama both human and divine that for him the realities of this world explodes into its richest values.

His work betrays spiritual sources and also acts as a mediator between the human and the divine. Throughout the world of light that he has created, Joseph Matar reaches out to what is sacred and Godly, seeking to rejoin the primordial Spirit. His vision of the world is a religious one, so he is in total communion with the universe, this universe which is both material and spiritual, of the body and of the soul, of space and of time, an inner time that humanizes the forms.

Occupying a privileged position among his contemporaries, and high up in a specifically human hierarchy, the artist oscillates tirelessly between God and man. Is it God he is closer to or mankind? By his lucidity, his perspicacity and his sensitivity he is certainly of all men close to mankind. As the bearer of light, he is without doubt closest to God.

His canvases are the incarnation of this thought, of that interior time of his which sublimates and immortalizes forms into a rich clay that is structured and radiant. If he puts his thought within the grasp of his fellowmen, it is in order to lead them beyond its bornes.

Persons and forms rise out of his colors and people his mysterious universe, expression of the artist’s soul. Beauty, Truth, Liberty and Love make up his universe. Joseph Matar has taken to heart the words of Goëthe, who said that beauty unites the heaven of the gods to the earth of men, and in his voyage to Wonderland he binds his identity to that of the Universe. Far from merely flattering the regard, his work stirs up feeling and speaks straight to the mind.

The painter’s ambition is to be a guiding star in the night, one that gives clarity and dissipates the darkness around it. Messenger of Light, the artist turns his face towards the light of Truth to give expression to his cosmic, universal and human mental deliberation.

In him the eternal beginning joins up with the eternal end, newborn every day, evolving and progressing, stopping never, just like life ever moving, time marching on, the seasons which always return, nature endlessly reborn and renewing. But as a creator of genius, the artist repeats himself never.

His warm colors, whether tender or strong, betray his ardor to live and to love. The rich variety of his themes reveals his ardor to know. But beyond his self-expression, through his canvases the artist shows that he is a master, one who teaches the magic of color, incarnated, transparent and supra-sensible, who awakens and directs our imagination from primal chaos to understanding of the space that underlies his work, As Creator he has all that it needs to wake up the forms from matter.

While he certainly knows the exultation of fertile cerebration, he also lives through that anguish which accompanies every creative act. There are material and spiritual storms swept by a cataclysmic wind, by an apocalyptic blaze, announcing the birth of a new work, unique, unprecedented, original, marked by the seal of Art.

A solid technique, a long apprenticeship, a substantial baggage, which he says is a baggage of gold, of wisdom, of devoted talent, all these make these canvases the depository into which he pours his soul, creating new realities. To his pure colors he adds an element of his soul and spirit which bind his work to the universal environment, like a compass needle that stands still in one direction only, that of the divine and spiritual North. His forms with their sometimes indistinct contours make our glance pass smoothly from one clair-obscur to another, from one mass to another, from one voluminous shape to its neighbor. What mysterious games these are for this master of movement!

Joseph Matar considers that the artist is above all a bearer of light. More precisely he “plunders” the light; the sparkling infinity, the luminous beams radiating from the eye of God, the clear light of his conscience, the light of Truth, the all-enveloping light that unites us with the whole of creation; all the inside and outside lights converge in him to constitute the “ego of light”. Then he sails away on the rays, rays which are celestial and planetary waters. He becomes intoxicated with light, transcending matter to join that world where the spirit shines glorious, where sheets of light inundate the creation of life and of fecundity.

All along this dialogue with the painter, an image rises up and is confirmed: every artist is a mediator of love. The cosmic forces of love burst forth in all forms of art, whether poetry, painting or music. The artist transcends mankind to give expression to a universal, cosmic and human idea. Such is the central idea, the idea of the whole which brings together all the scattered fragments and ensures the life of the work. Through his art the painter also tells us that there is in man more than what is merely human, for we carry within us this divine seed that makes the man what he is. An invisible thread binds us to Godhead. May this thread never more be broken!