Artist painting at Pointe St.Martin, Monaco
This is the painting of a magic garden. In place of Alice in Wonderland we see, instead, an artist (maybe Matthew Moss himself?) seated and painting an enchanted garden, jagged forms and lines of sheer cliff faces covered with trees and bush and agitated Ligurian seas below the ancient citadel of old Monaco, in a place called Pointe St. Martin. The different preliminary watercolours* the artist made before creating the painting were done in-situ. The style of the painting evolved as, gradually, the artist translated the technique of watercolor into the medium of oil painting; this is a mechanism that scholars and his contemporary critics noted J.M.W.Turner used frequently.
As he began the final work on canvas Matthew adopted a more schematic style translating the cliff face's soft rose, ochre and grey watercolour tints into oil-based cadmium red and chinese vermilion pigments. As was inevitable, the soft naturalistic style of a work of art done outdoors mutated into a a different type of canvas, one that was stylised, more abstract albeit keeping some of the scene's realism.
Matthew's painting is a fairly faithful rendering of the underlying rather precise and compete preliminary charcoal drawing that the artist composed directly on the canvas. Apart from some photographs taken during the creation of the painting* the underlying drawing is concealed for good, sadly, somewhat like the 'Sinopia' sketches you find beneath Italian Renaissance frescos. That is, unless some future forensic art scholars decide to bring it to light.
The influence of the 1960s paintings by the Chilean painter Roberto Sébastien Matta, who worked in Rome when Matthew Moss was a student there at the Istituto Centrale del Restauro and, in the course of his later years was a fellow resident in the Principality of Monaco, is visible in 'Artist painting at Pointe St. Martin'. This is particularly noticeable in the lower right of the canvas reflected in the composition of a mediterranean pine trees grove beneath which sits our artist painting at his easel.
*Monaco Mon Amour, pps 58-9, ISBN 0-943884-01-2
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