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Mathieu V. Staelens

Mathieu V. Staelens’ artistic practice demonstrates a contemporary mannerist style, characterised by figurative precision, emotional intensity, and a high level of technical craftsmanship. The essence of his artwork consists of meticulously hand-drawn images on polymer, a signature technique developed by the artist since 2008. In a next phase, these drawings are transferred to a much larger frame using pastel, painting or sculpture. 

Thematically, much of Mathieu V. Staelens’ artwork reflects on contemporary culture’s obsession with identity. Ever since the rise of capitalist free market individualism, and further reinforced by identity politics and today’s woke activism, personal identity seems to have migrated in the modern world from its traditional locus in the soul to the defining traits and features of the body. Mathieu V. Staelens takes issue with this major cultural shift in social recognition and self-understanding. Drawing inspiration from a figurative tradition developed by artists like Félicien Rops, Paul Delvaux and James Ensor, he proposes the skeleton as the sole and only remaining body of innocent sensual and aesthetic pleasure, insofar as the individual body must be literally stripped of all of its disruptive moral and political layers in order to be aesthetically appealing. 


Mathieu V. Staelens (1980) Lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium. His work was shown at Shanghai Zendai MoMA, Mukha Antwerp, Aeroplatiscs Gallery Brussels, ALB Gallery Paris, Salon du dessin contemporain, Art Brussels, Galeristes Paris, Pulse Miami and is part of several private collections (Europe, USA and China) and the public collection of Himalayas art center (Former Shanghai Zendai MoMa)

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