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RSF-1-015 Leaf

Museum Link:

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Date Minted: Feb 5, 2019

Artist Description: My very first test to replicate something in stampwork. These are some way veins on a leaf. Handmade process, rubber stamps with ink on paper, digitized. I've personally produced the stamps, the system for this process and finally digitized and tokenized. From analog to digital.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Contrast and precision are the compositional hallmarks which strike me as most integral to Mattiac’s work. Constantly throughout his oeuvre, you’ll find other representations of stampwork with a similarly thoughtful construction as this, with similarly interesting tension between grayscale colors. RSF-1-015 Leaf is high-level color contrast exploration, one stripped down to its barest elements. Greys and whites and blacks are the only colors we’ll find here, and the pull towards homogeneity in certain spots heightens that tension more so. Here, we are presented with true abstraction, stripped of any extraneous detail, even inessential color. No middling shapes. No jagged, stray lines. RSF-1-015 Leaf is singularly interested in shading and tone.

RSF-1-015 Leaf is made of 425 shaded blocks, each designed by hand using rubber stamps dipped in varying amounts of ink and then pressed on paper. Mattiac uses stampwork frequently, but always displays this same incredible technical care, arranging the pieces, stamping them carefully, digitizing and tokenizing them himself as well. The entire effect is less that of an artist and more than of an artisan. RSF-1-015 Leaf seems to have more in common with certain types of carpentry or trellis-painting than of classical high-art. My gut tells me that Mattiac doesn’t care much for such distinctions, and indeed, they may be unnecessary. Some artists run on intuition, and others run on almost scientific technicalism. Mattiac seems to be the latter, and through all the 425 blocks present in RSF-1-015 Leaf, we can see why. Different shades of white and black and grey, seemingly arranged at random, nevertheless appear to display a subconscious logic. Dark black lines snake across the vertical axis of the piece, not always in straight or unbroken fashion, but always with the effect of dividing another vertical section from another. One almost feels that we’re looking at a section of an incomplete image. We might be! Mattiac has used that style before as well, taking a single large image and breaking it up into a series of different NFTs, to be arranged, or not, at will, at the desire of their collectors. This is the only piece in his Superrare collection to be tagged “Leaf” however, so it remains unclear if there are sections beyond this one. Still, the way dark colors clot at the top layer of the image seems to suggest, even without a larger image, a desire to expand. It’s hard to shake the feeling, regardless, that this is a piece unnaturally confined to this certain 425-block section of existence. It seems to desire outward movement. It very nearly has outward movement, as dictated cleverly by the arrangement of the darkest black blocks. Along the vertical edges are the lightest blocks, if not all white then a very spry grey, whereas the center of the piece is less clearly demarcated. Multifarious shades abut each other within this central section of the image, shades divided into sections by the black lines around them. Internally, in these spots, the piece presents itself more like collage than anything else. 

I want to return to the effect the image has of presenting an abstract but recognizable image. Because there is no real image to speak of here, or at least not one that is interested in overtly presenting itself. We are almost tricked by the contrast of colors into seeing things. There are ghostly suggestions beneath the initially-chaotic-seeming surface of RSF-1-015 Leaf, and I begin to think of hieroglyphics, or letters from personally-unfamiliar languages, Cyrillic alphabets or maybe the Mandarin lexicon. But then, the further and more closely we examine the piece, the more disorder reigns. The seeming shapes evaporate, leaving us only with juxtaposed colors; this occurs even on a micro scale, where explosions of white manifest themselves even within the blackest of the squares. It suggests a merging. Even in spots where the colors contrast most greatly, there are black spots within white blocks and white spindly lines within black ones. So is the contrasting color really a matter of our own perception, that we are so keen to place things, literally, into boxes? 

In certain spots of similar color, cohesive shapes seem to emerge. Caterpillar-like lines. The suggestion of a curve. Our eyes undergo the curious process of hyper-focusing on like colors, almost seeming to drown out those that are not fully white or black, with these middle-ground squares giving off the sensation of background, to the defined colors’ foreground. This, however, can be no more than a trick of our own perception, and perhaps not even an intentional one designed by the artist. But the beauty of much abstraction, similar to the beauty of RSF-1-015 Leaf, is in its autonomous life after construction. When released unto a host public, the parasitic abstractions gain previously unforeseen and unforeseeable characteristics, have unforeseeable effects on a common psyche, things perhaps unknown to the artist responsible. They could only see from their limited perspective, that of someone who’s aware of an outcome before it is finished. We, however, ignorant and without context, are in thrall to the phantom effects of colors, shapes, lines, and suggestions. We are fully taken by anything we cannot fully impose logic upon. RSF-1-015 Leaf instead imposes itself upon us.

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