Praise for the moment
Light shines through the glass. Details are revealed one by one: here a light bubble rises, there a changing reflection. To seek to understand Matthieu Gicquel’s glass art – because what we’re really talking about here is touching the senses of the material, of the work – is first and foremost to follow the path mapped out by Junichiro Tanizaki in “In Praise of Shadows”.
For him, «[…] we forget what is invisible to us, we regard as non-existent what cannot be seen»; yet the creator’s entire will lies in this need to reveal to us what seems absent, to give substance to the mystery from a material so common that we no longer pay attention to it. Two words-concepts of Japanese origin-form the original basis of Matthieu Gicquel’s artistic philosophy: wabi-sabi and Yûgen. The first is the powerful idea that beauty is to be found in the banal, the everyday, the vile. To the European eye, at first glance, it seems hard to grasp: what beauty is there in a chipped bowl, in pronounced wear and tear? But then… The everyday and the commonplace contain within them the sublime. But the evidence of beauty, its subtlety, is intrinsic to the object and above all to the way it is viewed. That’s the whole idea behind Yûgen: each object is a universe in itself, but it’s up to the viewer to let themselves be caught up in its mystery.
At the crossroads of these two concepts, we are talking here about a meditative state, taking time, slowing down. Sitting down, contemplating one of Matthieu Gicquel’s creations, letting yourself be carried away by a colour changing with the light, by a reflection, a ray. A glass object is a moment when the mind wanders, discovering details and minute variations. A creation is a ray of sunlight on the skin when you wake up in the morning. The work of the glassmaker is extreme formal simplicity combined with the complexity of the soul and the eye. And like Leonardo da Vinci, Matthieu Gicquel brings us to the truth that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
And through it, the designer’s art encourages us to open our minds.
Pierre Soulages would say that «the sacred (is) there for everyone, including people who are not believers». In fact, there is a sacred dimension to the glassmaker’s work in that, through its contemplative function, it leads to an elevation of the soul, a transcending of the mundane (though very much present in the material itself, in its pragmatism) to touch on the spiritual.
All that remains now is to take the time to look out, to apprehend what our eyes cannot see and contemplate, finally, to discover beyond what is no longer just a simple piece of glass.
Text by Frédéric MARTIN