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Manuel Mathieu: World Discovered Under Other Skies


7 October 2023 - 10 December 2023


7 October 2023
10 December 2023

Works by

Manuel Mathieu

Curated by

Amin Alsaden


Looking into a gallery with tall, light blue walls, several large paintings hang next to and above one another. The large canvases are painted with gestural marks and vibrant colours. In the centre of the gallery are two long, low plinths, displaying flat ceramic artworks.

Manuel Mathieu: World Discovered Under Other Skies

Artist Talk: Thursday 5 October @ 4:00 pm in Brunton Auditorium
Vernissage: Friday 6 October @ 7:00 pm at the Owens Art Gallery


About this exhibition

Manuel Mathieu is known for vibrant, colourful paintings that seamlessly merge abstraction with figuration. His work reflects on our intertwined lives, in which the boundaries between the past and present or the personal and political are often blurred. Sharing recollections that depict everyday scenes, Mathieu also blends into his canvases an interrogation of the complex history of his familial homeland, Haiti. By unearthing the traumas of state violence, he addresses issues that remain as urgent today as they have been throughout Haitian history.

This exhibition features a collection of new and past works—including paintings, drawings, and ceramics—shedding light on Haiti’s relationship to the world. Positioned at the fault lines of modern political and environmental crises, Haiti epitomizes a global longing for liberation, and grassroots resistance to imperialist and capitalist exploits. At the centre of this exhibition is an examination of the long-lasting repercussions of Haiti’s pioneering revolt—launched in 1791, challenging slavery and colonialism—and its quest for self-determination, which have led in more recent decades to embroiling the nation in the intrigues of the Cold War. In Zapruder/313 (2016), Mathieu borrows from footage capturing the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy to raise questions about American support of Haiti’s ruthless dictatorships in pursuit of neo-colonial interests.

Other paintings delve into memories of the Duvalier dictatorships (1957-1986) to bring harrowing incidents back into contemporary consciousness. Fort Dimanche 2 (2017) hints at the atrocities committed at the infamous prison where countless political opponents vanished. Mathieu’s work is a reminder that commemorating the tragedies of the past does not fall solely on the shoulders of a nation’s local or diasporic communities. Instead, it is part of our collective responsibility. His works suggest a distinct understanding of Haiti’s history—a history defined by global currents, which occasionally collide to erupt in frenzied episodes of mass violence. Mathieu, therefore, proposes that the dynamics of the world might manifest themselves in one place, like Haiti. Underlining common links and struggles that unite us despite national borders, he invites us to enter a world discovered under other skies.

Image Gallery

Learn More

Watch Manuel Mathieu’s interview with The Power Plant

Visiting Artist Talk with Manuel Matheiu


This exhibition is initiated, organized, and circulated by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto; ​sponsored by the TD Ready Commitment; and​ supported by Lead Donors Steven and Lynda Latner and Major Donors Fonds Hamelys, Pamela J. Joyner, and Jay Smith and Laura Rapp. ​

The Power Plant logo.


Manuel Mathieu (b. 1986) is a multi-disciplinary artist, working with painting, ceramics, film, and installation. Mathieu’s interests are partially informed from his upbringing in Haiti—just after the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship—and his experience emigrating to Montréal at the age of nineteen. His art investigates themes of historical violence, erasure, resilience, and cultural approaches to physicality, nature, and spiritual legacy. Mathieu obtained an MFA Degree from Goldsmiths, University of London. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (2020), The Power Plant, Toronto (2021), and the Longlati Foundation, Beijing (2022). He will soon open a touring exhibition at the K11 Art Foundation, Shanghai, Wuhan and Shenyang (2023-2024). The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, and the Max Ernst Museum, Brühl, will present exhibitions by Mathieu in 2024 and 2025. He was one of the artists recognized by the 2020 Sobey Art Award, and he received the Best Short Film Award at the 2023 Festival International des Films sur l’Art.

Amin Alsaden is a curator, educator, and scholar whose work focuses on transnational solidarities and exchanges across cultural boundaries. With a commitment to advancing social justice through the arts, Alsaden’s curatorial practice contributes to the dissemination of more diverse, inclusive, and global narratives, by decentering and expanding existing canons, and challenging hegemonic knowledge and power structures. He is particularly interested in how artists and architects interrogate collective agency in the public realm and level institutional critique, while envisioning novel responses to the experiences of alienation and belonging. Alsaden’s research explores the history and theory of modern and contemporary art and architecture globally, with specific expertise in the Arab-Muslim world and its diasporas. He has published and lectured widely.