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Matthew Couper, The Chief Mourner and the last drops

Matthew Couper The Chief Mourner and the last drops, 2017

View in a room Print 29.9 x 22.4 inch 1 remaining copy


+$62 Delivery fees for United States Delivery : One to two weeks
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Matthew Couper, The Chief Mourner and the last drops
  • Offered by the gallery

    Professional art gallery
    Chatillon - France

  • Authenticity

    Artwork sold with an invoice from the gallery

  • Signature

    Hand-signed by artist

  • Medium

    Print : lithography

  • Themes


  • Support

    Print on paper

  • Type

    Numbered and limited to 40 copies

  • Dimensions cm | inch

    29.9 x 22.4 inch

  • Framing

    Not framed

  • Collector’s Guide

  • About the artwork

    Typical character from the Society Islands, in the late 1700s, the Chief Mourner is the one who leads grieving at a funeral. With his apron, his mask, his tropical feathers and his Pacific pearl shell, he presides here at the funeral of the Lake Mead and its water reserve.

    Located in Nevada and Arizona, this artificial lake supplies water to both states but also to California. For more than 30 years, water levels have been declining steeply, to the point that former cities engulfed during the creation of Lake Mead reappear regularly.
    Its overexploitation could lead to its draining in a few years.

    New Zealander living in Las Vegas, Matthew Couper compares in this anachronistic allegory the ancestral esoteric rites of the South Pacific to the current ecological and industrial disasters of the west coast of the United States. Among other things, there is a dark phoenix carrying a coffin, caricaturing the emblem of American national pride, and a dowser's Y-shaped rod to look for the last drops...

    Accomplished and printed at the heart of Paris, on a 19th century lithographic press, "The Chief Mourner and the Last drops" is the first lithograph made by Matthew Couper.

    The effort on textures with many different tools is highlighted by the black color that gives a strong contrast, letting light come from within the drawing. A slightly warmer than the paper hue was printed as a background, reminding the color of the employed stone, as if to recreate the object, disappeared after the drawing was erased. This tint also gives an ancient style to the work as if the disaster illustrated by the disillusioned artist had been announced and could have been avoided.

    • Tags
    • lithograph

    • religion

    • rituals


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Matthew Couper

Born in: 1976

United States

Translation in progress

Born in New Zealand, Matthew Couper has always felt the need to travel, discover and analyze societies. He took advantages of artistic residencies in the United Kingdom, Mexico and of several trips to Europe as well to broaden his culture and taste for painting.

Since 2010, he has been living in Las Vegas, the city of sin and all excesses, but also of American capitalism at its height. So he lives there with many spiritual and societal stimulations that are reflected in his work, in which he expresses his social and political viewpoints, "from a recent immigrant’s outsider perspective". His influences are numerous, from eclectic civilizations and cultures, ranging from the symbols of the ancient western art (italian trecento and quattrocento in particular) to the contemporary images.

Attracted by Spanish colonial art, he sees it as the cultural reflections of a society through the acts of devotion, the apparitions of saints and other monsters. Collector of ex-votos and retablos, whose artists' humility he appreciates, he has painted himself a brilliant and successful series of ex-votos that speak of art, politics, religion or myths. Matthew Couper has appropriated this traditional iconography of the Spanish baroque, composed of "a lot of darkness balanced with red", to illustrate his contemporary paintings whose subjects, which are often very personal, are inspired by his dreams, his Frustrations, books he has read or his encounters.

While the iconography of this art is subjected to the themes of the counter-reform of the Catholic Church, he uses it to stand out social phenomena but also lamentations on "false contemporary problems", a hard drive which crashes, a stomach ache during a journey, a nightmare composed of popular extraterrestrial figures of the 80s. He talks about flooding yourself with exposure, a way to face his fears by representation.
These simple subjects are mingled with anachronistic and esoteric symbols, giving his painting a dense and rich reading.

"Darkly funny, and dense with symbols, Couper’s paintings are his attempt to bridge the gap between the mundane and the spiritual." (John Seed)

His works are represented in public collections throughout New Zealand and internationally (Rome , Brisbane, Montreal and Las Vegas) and in private collections in New Zealand, Australia, USA, Scotland, Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand and The Philippines.
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Matthew Couper, The Chief Mourner and the last drops
Matthew Couper, The Chief Mourner and the last drops Matthew Couper, The Chief Mourner and the last drops Matthew Couper, The Chief Mourner and the last drops Matthew Couper, The Chief Mourner and the last drops Matthew Couper, The Chief Mourner and the last drops

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