The Artist Matthias Moravek is juggling with time

Using ephemeral works, the German artist Matthias Moravek decided to leave his artistic imprint on the coloured walls of Saint-Louis. He created a dozen drawings which make reference to voyage and expeditions.

Keeping in mind the run-down buildings of Saint-Louis one could think, that the city would inspire more durable projects. But, with the sensibility of the artist, Matthias Moravek sees things in a different way. He decided to develop an artistic work entitled L’Ephémère disparu on some of the walls of the old colonial city. 

The artist, usually working with adhesive foil and oil colour on canvas, two techniques that he normally prefers for his work, decided to use white chalk this time due to its ephemeral qualities. During the realisation of his drawings, various works have inspired his project.

At the monthly artist meeting Vox Artis at the RAW MATERIAL COMPANY, Moravek explained that he had chosen two masterpieces of art history as well as the wooden boxes as a reference point that are used in Saint-Louis to collect the prawns from the River Senegal. 

The first painting is called The Raft of the Medusa and was painted by the French Théodore Géricault between 1818 and 1819. This canvas depicts a tragic accident of the French navy: The wreckage of the frigate meduse that ran aground on a sandbank just off the Mauretanian coast. 



‘This maritime catastrophe is related to the process of colonialisation. It didn´t happen by chance, that this ship failed close to an african coast‘, he explained during the presentation of his works. The second painting is called The Sea of ice by the German painter Caspar David Friedrich. This work shows a wreckage, yet this time situated within icebergs. In effect, the drawings of Moravek display damaged boats, ships and flags as symbols of a failed expedition. 

And they now find themselves on a dozen sites of the 300 year old city. At times, whilst exploring run down buildings he exposed himself to danger, as some houses were about to collapse at any moment. On the other hand, the working process offered entertaining moments to the children of Saint-Louis when they gathered behind him to watch him working. 

The first raindrops have already washed away some of the drawings. But others might still survive till the end of august. 


Scheina Adaya

Journal Walfadjri, Dakar
Published on July 29, 2013

Blank Spaces
Matthias Moravek’s Art

That which remained for some years in a flat two-dimensional form is now creating its own space.

Berlin artist Matthias Moravek, who, up to now has been regarded as an established painter of current captivating landscapes, is expanding his repertoire and taking it into the third dimension. So let‘s start by discussing his paintings.

The landscape has been used as one of the mayor themes of art since the Renaissance. In past decades, it has been a constant part of art. And Moravek is also a landscape painter. However, he chooses not to share the inclination to use net-romantic “kitsch” as well as trinkets with many artists of his age group. On the contrary: His landscapes are fragmented, painted in cool colors and applied to the canvas in a crystal-like form. They are full of irony and empty spaces. The canvas often shines through his compositions. He sometimes applies the paint thickly and expressively; and yet again, he applies it thinly and very exact. His paintings consistently swing between expressive and moderate, but they always deny the viewer a story. The use of these empty spaces, showing the white colour of the primed canvas, is a typical trait which characterises his painting style.

Moravek sometimes depicts grizzlies, painted inpristine white, then mountain views or a mountain goat. Or again and again, trees that show the verticality of the depicted landscape. In addition, Moravek separates geometrical forms and images which appear in amazingly different ways from each other by using various types of paint application methods. Sometimes the characteristic style is smeared and thinly applied and at other times expressive and pasty. Then once more, we discover the colour grade in a hard crystal-like form. Nothing is done by accident. These paintings are deliberate, and at the same time, constructed architecturally. Moravek is not a net-romantic, which his series of ”satellite images“ have already shown, where he translated examples from the Internet onto canvas.

Although Matthias Moravek’s artwork is contemplative, it is still constantly flowing. New, encapsulated colour objects, constructed with a plug-in principle, are currently being built — works which lie between painting and sculpture, quite in the tradition of the avant-garde of the early 20th century, but still using the influence of decontructivism rather than deconstructionism in the post-modern period. 



Moravek has already shown his preference for using separated and divided spaces within his tectonically-stylised method which he is now also dividing and breaking into a third dimension. Moravek understands these asymmetrical objects as an analysis of his painting, objects which we now can con-ceive as late descendants of cubist paintings — in their many facets and multiple perspectives.

The main theme of his work relates to the staging of nature. White areas emphasise both the presence and absence of things and show the artificiality of what is portrayed in our perception of landscape. It is no coincidence that Moravek allows himself to be continuously inspired by dioramas in natural history museums. The artificially-staged scene distorts the over all effect. We are walking here on shaking ground and it makes sense to take these pictures as signs that show us the right way.

The way in which Moravek permits various things to collide with each other quite abruptly – in his style of painting, but also that WHICH he shows us — all of these things lead the beholder to areas of uncertainty. 

The ”empty space“ — a term that is well known from the literary aesthetics of reception — could be called a constancy of his work. What is required here is a viewer who succeeds in absorbing different perspectives. Hence, a practiced reader of pictures.

A blank space is in crystallography a place where the usual arrangement of atoms, ions or molecules in the crystal lattice remains unoccupied. These unoccupied, pictorial empty spaces lie at the underlying core of Matthias Moravek’s fascinating art.




Marc Peschke