mathias duhamel focussing on music and painting with blue paint brush


Mathias Duhamel was born in 1956. Trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts d'Amiens and then at the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Appliqués de Paris, he followed a long artistic career between architecture, the press industry and advertising art direction, before devoting himself to painting from 1998 onwards. An author-composer with an interest in the art of theater, Mathias Duhamel began combining music and painting on stage in 2006. Since then, he has collaborated with soloists, quartets, orchestras and composers. His live painting and music performances, which he calls "Concerts de Peinture", have already taken place in Paris, Lille, Canterbury, Atlanta, New York, Brooklyn, Moscow and many other cities.


The Concert de Peinture® is a kind of music-painting performance in which musicians and painters combine their energies to create an ephemeral work. Contrary to appearances, Mathias Duhamel does not structure his work within the limited surface of the canvas, but in the invisible space of passing time. He approaches each performance like a "musician whose instrument is paint". Using colored matter, he paints a succession of scenes, with each new stage covering the previous one, thus approaching a cinematic vision of the concert. Neither of the 2 arts, music or painting, is an enhancement of the other. They merge in full complementarity, on the same level, from the beginning to the end of the concert.


Mathias Duhamel's performances use paint as a means of expression and, beyond this obvious fact, also call upon choreographic notions based on gestures shared by all performing artists (musicians, conductors, painters, dancers, actors, etc.). This approach follows on from ideas already developed by artist Fabienne Verdier, and is similar to the codes of conduct of Sound Painting by Walter Thompson and Christophe Mangou, or the gestures of conductors Simone Menezes and Mélanie Levy-Thiébaut. Intention and movement are the foundation of Mathias Duhamel's performances.


There are 2 different approaches to the music and painting performances. The approach based on written music (classical, modern or contemporary) is a rigorous interpretation of a musical work. It requires writing a painting score and rehearsing. A performance based on total improvisation between painter and musician is more like a spontaneous dialogue between the 2 artists, who use their respective artistic languages to talk and respond to each other.


Mathias Duhamel's performances are not intended to be aesthetically pleasing, let alone decorative. As the action of painting is situated in time, the pictorial work is not intended to last longer than the musical work that has just been played. Music and painting begin and end at the same time. This is why Mathias Duhamel removes the painting material and its fresh history from the spectator's view by covering it with a cotton veil at the end of the concert (wrapped music). In this way, for music as for painting, only our memory retains the emotions felt.


In all his performances, Mathias Duhamel questions the tenuous relationship between the 2 arts of music and painting, one linked to the vibration of sound, the other to the vibration of color. This questioning of the synesthesia of sounds and colors has been asked a thousand times in the past* by mathematicians such as Louis-Bertrand Castel as early as 1740, writers such as Guillaume Apollinaire as early as 1912, and illustrious artists such as Arcimboldo in the 16th century, Robert Delaunay from 1913 or Vassily Kandinsky in 1928, the pianist Alexander László in 1925, the Danish musician Thomas Wilfred with his "clavilux", and major composers such as Miroslav Ponc, Olivier Messiaen, Arnold Schönberg and especially Alexander Scriabin with his "Luce" light keyboard. Their research was based on theoretical, mathematical and intellectual approaches. Mathias Duhamel's approach is more choreographic, as mentioned above.

* References : Jean-Yves Bosseur, composer : "Peinture et Musique" / Léopold Tobisch : "Voir la musique" France Musique / Philharmonie de Paris : Musique et Arts Visuels / Musique et Peinture