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HUART'S LINEAR PICTURES AND A LOOK AT SOME WOODCUTS OF DÜRER
While he was in Malta in 1990, recording his impressions of the island in his sketch book, Matias Huart was confronting an issue that had long underpinned his work, how a profile. a head, or any other subject might be described in
a single continuous line, a line that still retained the power and energy of the original. These lines needed to hold within them the elements of both freedom and suffering, a paradoxical fusion of complexity and clarity, as Huart
suggests in contemporaneous marginal notes, which would result in a de-railing of the subject from its predictible path, like a cell attacked by a virus. His black lines overlaying colour fields, connect, overlap, mix, weave, knot
and dance. Yet this apparently angry confusion is always presented as an illusion of controlled disorder. Here is no ornamental aesthetic, none of Art Nouveau’s complacent curves. Instead his lines rebel while still
contained within the unity of their ordered rectangular space.
Matias Huart acknowledges that his inspiration for this work derives from the six Durer woodcuts known as «Knots of Leonardo da Vinci». Although unsigned, these are now fully authenticated. In them Durer has used
double lines to form an interlaced relief. As the first extant examples are printed on Venetian paper, it would suggest they were made during Durer’s stay in Venice in 1506. The precise design of each of the woodcuts
differs, but in all six the mass of superimposed lines come together to form a knot of intricate precision, like an infinite whorl of thread, and they were a source of fascination for our contemporaries, both for their intensity
and their abstraction. From the moment he first saw them Matias Huart was indelibly marked.
Matias’s work is neither a study in harmony nor a search for geometrical perfection. The lines, whether parallel or linked, or a series of maze-like paths, follow a distinct pattern, tending towards a circular dynamic of
spirals, paradoxical spins and superimposed coils. Among the tightly interlacing lines are some which turn back on themselves, and others that attempt to disrupt the circular momentum, reflecting the haphazard and destructive
force of nature, an image of perpetual motion attempting to unravel constricting knots held in a state of permanent tension.
In May 1980, while working on a performance of his «Magnetic Night» at the Kunsthall in Basle Matias Huart said: «For me music is naturally magnetic, like the energy that fires me. I am pulled towards general
need rather than my own ego-driven desires. I want to go beyond the area of personal expression in my work and focus instead on the pulses and rhythms common to everyone.» This emphasis on distance and objectivity is
fundamental to Huart’s work, as is the belief that there are core elements in the human psyche which are independent of mood and surface emotion, an approach that is in diameterical opposition to the idea of
Huart’s non-personal, non-subjective approach is what continues to drive his work as he attempts to fuse the idea of the tie that binds and the explosion that frees. It is a search that has been going on since antiquity as
it concerns originality in shape, and richness in form. The interplay of line and knot is the expression of this dynamic, as epitomised by Irish and other illuminated manuscripts created in the middle ages and even earlier, which
go well beyond their perception as symbolic and ornamental.
However, nobody could describe Matias Huart’s work as ornamental. And, as for Durer’s knots and interlocking lines, what do they represent? How are we to read and understand them them? As decorative and ornamental?
Surely not. Matias Huart’s answer had been to find his meaning within them, and to admire and understand but not to copy.