Since the mid-1990s, Mathieu Mercier‘s oeuvre has incorporated organic forms as well as serenely strict, minimalist surfaces. The artist was born in 1970—he became known for his ‘do it yourself’ sculptures, which were produced in a hardware store rather than an artist‘s studio.
Continuously examining the aspect of function in his works, Mathieu Mercier had already referenced the ‘Frankfurt kitchen’ in 1995. He does not view artworks as necessarily lacking practical usage. Mercier alters the maxim „form follows function“ to „function is form“, which constitutes his preference to use materials from hardware stores. The Bauhaus is ironically related to the eponymous DIY-chain. Capable of being put to practical use, his sculptural shelving designs are exemplary: at the Manifesta 2002 in Frankfurt, they housed the entire artist archive.
Mercier frequently addresses the artistic production process. For the 2012 scan series, he placed objects onto a scanner and allowed the machine to expose and reproduce them.
The resulting image was then printed in large format. Due to the exposure without a white background, the scanner itself appears in the picture. The scanned objects (here flowers and Pantone colour charts) are reproduced along with the medium of depiction itself. The composition is therefore a hybrid of nature and technology. Notions of temporality are literally illuminated. In contrast to a camera that captures the subject in a centisecond, the scanner scans the motif from top to bottom, which involves a short but significant time delay.
Animals and plants are often to be found in Mercier‘s works. At the first Berlin Biennale in 1998, he showed a melamine-coated geometric structure as a supporting framework for an oversized houseplant. In 2012, he placed a living axolotl couple into the center of a modernist aquarium, thereby questioning the fundamental quality of dioramas. While the diorama attempts to create the illusion of life, Mercier draws attention to two real and living primordial beings. Oscillating between notions of science and spectacle, Mercier created an actual habitat that is as artificial as it is archaic.
Mathieu Mercier was awarded the 2003 Prix Marcel Duchamp. Since then, his work has been exhibited in numerous institutions, including the Centre Pompidou in 2003, the Musée d‘art moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2007, Kunsthalle Nürnberg in 2008, the Lokremise of the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, and Villa Merkel, Esslingen 2014).