Rise and Fall (Stephan Strsembski)

Born in 1981 in Kortrijk, Belgium, Matthieu Ronsse is among the major painters of his generation. In exhibitions his painting oeuvre – which began with a core of old-masterly portraits and in the meantime encompasses just as many gestural abastractions, assemblages, collages and monochromes – is flanked by his installations and performances. Irrespective of his choice of mediums, Ronsse’s procedure is as ‘informed’, in the sense of consciously anchored in the traditions of art- and intellectual-history (Geistesgeschichte), as it is also radically individual, i.e., it goes against the grain of the usual self-gratifying discourse

The discursive strands of which can be easily demonstrated. For one, Ronsse’s understanding of painting is rooted in the early modernist constellation of master, workshop and followers and, beyond this, to contemporary movements of the appropriating arts from Lawler to Kippenberger.
In addition, Ronsse’s way of dealing with the ‘facts’ of this daily environment as installative elements and autonomous sculptures or as accessoires to the painting is manifest in his very decided and in the end far-reaching occupation with the model of Duchamp’s ‘creative act’. And, not least of all, the constant encounter with a performative ‘extension’ of his painting and sculpture exhibitions points to the internalization of a processoriented concept of art.

Decision against the original artwork (most clearly: against the painting) never took place in Ronsse’s case, neither by way of fashionable coquettishness nor of neo-conceptual carnestness. Many of Ronsse’s artistic decisions are difficult to follow up on (though always experienceable with great intensity), as when he, as well as other producers of his exhibitions, is faced with enormous transportation problems, as has repeatedly been the case, leaving little enough time for the on-site production and installation of the works. These self-imposed hurdles- which, by the way, in the tie-in between transportation, installation and mounting only reflect the processed that Ronsse also goes through in his core practice of making pictures – operate as the source of friction for his own productivity. With such self-imposed missions, Ronsse prescribes failure as a possibility, thus setting the height of his own fall.

From the German by Jeanne Haunschild