Matthew Hansel – Me, My Shadow and All of Our Friends

Matthew Hansel

Me, My Shadow and All of Our Friends

(Current) 23.05.202423.05.24 13.07.202413.07.24
(Gallery) Rue de Livourne 32 Livornostraat

(01/06)Exhibition views


Matthew Hansel


Press Release ( )


rodolphe janssen is pleased to present the first solo show at the gallery of American-artist Matthew Hansel, opening from 23 May to 13 July 2024.

The paintings of Matt Hansel traverse a liminal terrain located between the morbidly beautiful and the gruesomely delightful. Employing a menagerie of art historical tropes ranging from 16th Century European painting to American modernism, Hansel meticulously constructs surreal tableaus that contort the very logics of dreamscape. Working through compositional strategies rooted in religious iconography, Flemish still life and vanitas painting, Hansel obfuscates the distinction between past and present as a means to reinterpret the visual cacophony of our fleeting contemporary moment.

Matt Hansel’s distinct painterly vocabulary becomes perpetually reconfigured in his highly detailed works. In the worlds Hansel constructs, there is a particular focus on the organizational strategies between micro and macrocosm. This shift in scale oIers a breadth of illusionary depth which to transcends the painterly surface to reveal discrete miniature worlds. As seen in such iconic works as Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, where vast scenes of activity provide and overall compositional landscape, the beauty as well as the devil is in the details. Employing similar strategies to the Flemish master, Hansel’s complex worlds are built out of a play of religious allegory, the imagined sites of the erotic, intermixed with 20th century visual culture. In these paintings the figure is caught in physical dialogue with a bizarre bestiary of the artist’s imagined demonology. Often citing Christian creation stories of the original sin, Hansel’s subjects find themselves in various states dress when confronting the ludicrous amalgamated bodies of demons. Situated in pastoral arenas of gardens, seascapes and beaches, these figures seem blissfully unaware of the macabre worlds creeping into the frame or just below the surface, which on closer inspection is the grounding layer for Hansel’s universe rendered in high definition. In setting up such visual dichotomies, the artist confronts the viewer with questions of existential morality, which permeate every corner of his fantastical images. By pitting heaven and hell against each other in this way, the artist engages in a horrifically exquisite dance where earthly delights are intertwined with the opulent glut of consumer commodity, propped up by equally foreboding underworlds.

As an artist who came of age during the transition of images from analogue to digital, the paintings of Matt Hansel are caught in a perpetually shifting present. By tethering diverging cultural epochs together, the artist reflects on the transitionary flux of our visual landscapes: from eye, to lens, to screen, and back again, weaving polarities into lush painterly tapestries that only truly reveal themselves in time spent in the act of looking. Hansel holds together the seemingly beautiful with the seemingly ugly, insinuating that one can only exist in relation to the other, while claiming no moral distinction between them. As is depicted in these works, the surreal moment occurs when binary worlds collide. Within this collision a new balance is defined, resonate of the ancient equilibrium as above, so below.

— Alex Turgeon


  • Matthew Hansel, Bring Your Head To Rest On Mine — But Cry Not On My Shoulder — For Now Our Hearts Are Humble — But Together They Grow Bolder
  • Matthew Hansel, All Tied Up In Forget-Me-Knots
  • Matthew Hansel, When You Live In The Shadows You Can’t See Your Neighbors
  • Matthew Hansel, Judge One’s Soul By The Demons It Keeps — Judge One’s Bed By The Number It Sleeps
  • Matthew Hansel, An Affair In Two Parts — With A Brief Intermission
  • Matthew Hansel, A Midnight Vigil Everlasting
  • Matthew Hansel, Such A Sleep They Have, The Ones We Love - So Peaceful In Their Worlds Unknown
  • Matthew Hansel, A Monument To Those Who Stand On Shaky Ground
  • Piggy Back Ride
  • Matthew Hansel, The Soloist
  • Matthew Hansel, Piggy Back — Final Walk Through — Descending Dance
  • Matthew Hansel, A Strange Wind
  • Matthew Hansel, The Final Walk Through

To know more about the available works from this exhibition, please contact us.

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by Virgile Janssen