7th july - 16th december 2018

Rochechouart Museum is delighted to welcome Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc for an exhibition of his works from 7th July to mid-December, 2018. A dozen pieces specifically produced for the occasion make up a maze-like display installed in the vast top-floor gallery of Rochechouart Castle.

Over the last ten years, Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc has investigated the effects of invasive cultural domination and post-colonial scars. In excavating the past, he invokes such influential historical figures as the theorist of decolonization Franz Fanon, film director Sarah Maldoror or the Tricontinental – a political magazine published in Cuba encouraging struggles for independence in third world countries. Sometimes, the traces are evoked through absences such as the missing human presences in his series Slave Trade Landscapes, or in the fragmented views of a 19th century sculpture by Ernest-Louis Barrias at Cayenne honouring French statesman Victor Schoelcher who strove to abolish slavery in the colonies.

Palace of the Peacock marks a new more personal autobiographic phase in Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc's work, a phase that began with the exhibition Chimen chyen, held at the Marcelle Alix Gallery in 2015. The exhibits were based on a collection of objects once belonging to Joseph Bernes, landlord of the house in Wacapou village where the artist's grandmother lived, on the bank of the Maroni River in French Guyana.

Based on the novel of the same name by the Guyanese author Wilson Harris (who died last March) Palace of the Peacock mixes tales and time periods on a voyage to the heart of French Guiana where we meet people panning for gold along the Maroni river, set off on a quest to find a spiritual Eldorado in the “country of many waters” or follow Abonnenc as he searches for the remains of his grandmother's house buried in the forests along the border with Surinam.

In the spirit of Wilson Harris' magical realism, Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc conjures up a universe where each object is part of a global project, linked to every other element through subtle transmutations, melding metal, body or sound. From paintings that open the exhibition, Etudes pour la chambre rançon [Studies for the Ransom Room], to the film Wacapou, a Prologue or a Room in My mother's House, bodies become flesh then instruments and finally notes of music.
Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc casts an alchemical spell over the Guyanese forest. He shows it to us as a private destination situated at the edge of the world, beyond dreams and death, a place where we encounter a primaeval landscape that is both sublime and terrifying.

Mathieu Abonnenc was born in 1977. Following studies at Marseille School of Art he enrolled on the La Seine research programme at ENSBA Paris School of Art, working there from 2006 to 2008. Solo exhibitions over the last 10 years have included: Gasworks, London (2011), Fundação Serralves in Porto (2012), Basel Kunsthalle and Bielefelder Kunstverein (2013), Kiosk Gallery, Ghent (2014), Museum für Moderne Kunst, Franckfort (2016) and the Jumex Foundation in Mexico (2018). His works have also been featured in a number of international exhibitions such as at the Paris Triennial (2012), Berlin Biennial (2014) Biennials in Venice and Kiev (2015), the Jakarta Biennial (2017) and most recently Stories of Almost Everyone at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018).

Video of the artist's exhibition