Paul Mathieu

Paul Mathieu | “PICTURE THIS! Ceramics and Pictorial Spaces”

Paul Mathieu

Paul Mathieu

The North-West Ceramics Foundation is pleased to announce Paul Mathieu as their next featured speaker on Thursday, October 23, 2014. The lecture will be held in Room 245 in the North Building of Emily Carr University of Art + Design (1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver), at 7:30 pm. The lecture is free and open to the public, and all are welcome to attend.

My work is an investigation of the role and function of ceramics within culture in general and art in particular. I see ceramics (and pottery) as an independent, autonomous and specific art form and it is this specificity that my work explores, around concepts particular to craft practices, like decoration, function and containment, in a unique relation to various contexts, to time, to history and to human experiences.

Paul Mathieu is known nationally and internationally as much for his provocative ceramics as his writings, which constitute a significant contribution to contemporary craft theory. Born in Bouchette, Québec, in 1954, Mathieu studied in Montréal, Calgary, Stoke-on-Trent and Banff prior to attending SFSU in San Francisco, where he received an MA, and UCLA in Los Angeles, where he received his MFA in 1987. He has taught in Montréal, San Francisco, San Miguel, Paris and Vancouver, where he is currently on faculty at Emily Carr University.

Mathieu has been artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre, the Tama Art Studios in Machida, Japan, and the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemet, Hungary. He has made four separate stays at the San Bao International Ceramics Studio in Jingdezhen, China, to research and realize new works. He has received many awards including Le Grand prix des métiers d’art du Québec in 1985; the Chalmers Award in Crafts in 2000 and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (Fine Craft) in 2007. His work is in numerous public collections including The Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts, The Gardiner Museum for Ceramic Art; The Shigaraki Museum for Contemporary Ceramic Art; The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Paul Mathieu is the author of Sexpots: Eroticism in Ceramics, published in 2003 by A&C Black. It features erotic ceramics from the Neolithic period to today with an emphasis on the work of more than 100 international contemporary artists. He also wrote The Art of the Future: 14 essays on Ceramics, which is available online free of charge with texts and images at His lecture will expand on material from Chapter four, “The Narrative Esthetics: Framing and Fiction,” in that book. In this essay, Mathieu asserts that “function and decoration; form and surface; object and image” come together uniquely in ceramics not as “opposition or polarity but in continuity and symbiosis.” While Classical Esthetics emphasizes form, and Decorative Esthetics abstraction and pattern, Narrative Esthetics focuses on telling a story by using various framing devices. Mathieu traces the narrative impulse through figurative motifs on Attic Greek pottery, Italian maiolica and Asian ceramics, in the process teasing out numerous insights relating to perception, framing and relationships between ceramics and the arts of photography, painting, printmaking and sculpture. He then further discusses a number of contemporary ceramic artists who both extend and contest conventions of representation found on historical ceramics.

“PICTURE THIS: Ceramics and Pictorial Spaces” will present Mathieu’s original and fascinating ideas relating to representation and the ceramic surface, demonstrating his renown as a scholar and teacher. The lecture will take place Thursday, October 23, 2014, at 7:30 in Room 245 in the North Building of Emily Carr University. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

For more information on Paul Mathieu, please see his website at