In the Studio with Matthieu Livrieri

In the studio with Matthieu Livrieri, whose work uses his personal experiences to create a testimony of his time through painting. We met with Matthieu to tell us more about growing up in Grenoble, their greatest influences, and unexpected sources of inspiration.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

I always had trouble defining myself as an artist. I think that I am still young (23 years old) and that there are still many things that I want to work on in order to be totally satisfied with what I make and with the personality of my work. I consider myself being a maker. I like to make, therefore I don’t think about the way I consider myself. I rather slide down the slope and see what happens then.

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?

come from Grenoble, a city that lies in the heart of the French Alpes surrounded by mountains and nature. I am very attached to my hometown because I think it is full of magic, you can always see the mountains in every end of street and there is also something strong that puts you back on your feet so you remember who you are. Concerning my studies, I have been spending quite a bit of time since the age of 6 in Max Terlands atelier in Grenoble. A tall man with grey hair smelling cigarets. He gave me drawing and painting exercises. And when I come to Grenoble for a visit I very often go see him. He helps me a lot and never thinks twice before shaking me a bit in my work.

At the age of 18 I entered the Fine Art school of Grenoble (France) after graduating in high school. There I discovered performance, sculpture, art installation. It was very vitalizing but I new deeply inside of me that I wanted to paint. So I left the mountains and went to the school of Fine Arts in Montpellier (France). There I studied with painting teachers such as Gilles Balmet, Carmelo Zagari who all helped me a lot to develop my univers, also encouraging me to work on paper with colour pencils.

Now, since the beginning of the year, I have entered La Cambre (Brussels, Belgium) in the Painting department. Here I really try to specialise myself in a similar approach then what I was doing in drawing but on canvas this time. We have big workspaces so I began painting in bigger size with oil paint and I enjoy it a lot.

And I really appreciate being in this school environment because there is an incredible energy floating around. One workspace is shared between several students which gives the opportunity to exchange ideas on technical aspects and advise one another with new points of views. But above of all we share a similar passion : painting, and this is really nice.

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice artistic work? 

I think that at first it was my father that made me want to draw and paint. He like drawing and offered us little painting workshops in the living-room when we were small my brother and I.

I was fascinated by the drawings he made, reproductions of M.C Eschers among others. An incredible detailed precision, I was impressed.

What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from? 

My work gravitates around questions that touch memory and souvenir. I enjoy drawing and painting the people around me, the spaces I am in and the objects I use. Like in a secret journal, I document my encounters with coloured pencils. I like the variety of faces, the emotions and the perceptions that you feel by looking at people.

I do not try to draw things in a very realistic way, I try to give a second life to the people I represent through the look I give them.

As for the aesthetic aspect of my work, I like colour, I like motif, but I also like to flatten out spaces. I am born with one blind eye, the right one, which gives me a different perception of the world : I have trouble seing the perspective of spaces. I like using this disability as a tool in the production of my work.

Who & what are your greatest influences?  

From my youngest age I have been very influenced by fauvist artists, neo-expressionist artists…
I remember going to the Grenoble Museum and discovering L’intérieur aux aubergines painted by Matisse, I was amazed. The motif, the colours, the flattening of space. I knew that I wanted to get into this kind of questioning of space. Little by little, I discovered the art of Gauguin, David Hockney, Per Kikeby, Matthieu Cherkit, Johan Papaconstantino…

An unexpected source of inspiration?

People. I am always surprised by my encounters. It’s always unexpected.

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it?

I like when it reminds to people moments of their everyday life, moments that they know, places that they know. Make my sensitivity meet theirs, my personal vision, distorted and raw.

What events in your life have mobilized change in your practice?

I think that the period that shook my way of working was in 2019, I challenged myself to make one drawing a day during a year. It was very intensive but it gave me the chance in a very short time to find the theme I like a personality in my work. Concerning the evolution of my work, it is very progressive by discovering new technics and new ways of creating…

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

Before starting to paint, I have to find a good photography that I took in the intention of drawing / painting. I make a selection of space, motif, gesture and position of the subject. Then, I listen to music because it gives rhythm when I create. Often I like to stay in my head when I am drawing without talking, just being with myself.

Then you never know where you are going when you begin a piece of art, you have the general idea but most of all I like the unexpected. In my opinion, a good piece of art is a piece of art that went through an evolving process and that I enjoyed making. The final result is not that important. You have to have fun, if not what’s the point ?

Tell us the inspiration behind your works?

Jardin D’hiver is a painting I made in 2020 during the lockdown in France. The represented scene happens in Grenoble with the girlfriend I had back at that time, Naïs. During this period of lockdown we were all isolated in our private spaces with family, friends etc… There was something very brutal, happy to be very close to someone you love and in the same time this weird sensation of discovering the others naked personality. Do we really know each other ? So I painted this tiny imaginary space saturated with a floral motif and Naïs naked covered with a towel protecting her body. In this painting there was a strong will of escaping and a feel of coming back to nature.

Something in the future you hope to explore?

I have several projects in process. This year, I think I would like to make small sculptures coming out of elements that exist in my paintings. Give life to my work through a different material and

make it communicate with the space of reel. I want to encourage a real discussion and narration between my different productions. Transposing my work in the space of reel and of the living.