Mathew Reichertz – Artist Profile

Headshot for VANS

Mathew Reichertz

Originally from Montreal, Mathew Reichertz completed his BFA at Concordia University and his MFA at NSCAD University. In 2005 Reichertz was the Eastern Canadian winner of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition and in 2006 was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award. He has had numerous exhibitions nationally and his work can be found in a number of institutional collections including the Nova Scotia Art Bank, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Dalhousie Art Gallery. Reichertz’s interests are in narrative and contemporary painting. In 2006 he became a tenure track member of the Faculty at NSCAD University where he is now an Associate Professor.

the world of story telling
As an artist my interests revolve around story telling in the context of contemporary art. On a personal level I remember with stories, I understand through stories, and problem solve with stories. I encounter and make sense of the world within stories. In contemporary art, stories are quietly contested. Often backstories appear in essays or interviews about the work and the work itself may flirt with narrative but stop short of actually telling a story. One can often find what could be described as ambiguous narrative or fractured narrative. For reasons that I can only make guesses about, straight story telling is rare.


“Garbage, Page 1”, Oil on polystyrene, 2014.
Photo credit: Steve Farmer

the way the art gets made
My greatest influences come from difficult experiences. When something upsetting happens and I spend too much time thinking about it, there is the potential that it will eventually make its way into my work. I don’t have much control over this process but I don’t really want more than I have. This acknowledgement of the importance of struggle and conflict in my process however, does not mean that making the work is therapeutic. Nor is it significant as autobiography. It is just the way that the art gets made.

the best decision
Challenges I had maintaining an art practice early on were the result of financial stress, having to work to make ends meet. There is only so much time in a day and if too much of it is spent on activities that are not involved with the process of making art, then the art can grind to a halt. There is a self-propagating aspect to art-making, working leads to more ideas and more limber and intuitive problem solving.

The best decision that I ever made was to keep thinking of myself as an artist. We truly construct our lives through the goals and desires that we choose to acknowledge and foster. I used to think this had something to do with some mystical aspect of existence but now I understand that it has to do with some mystical aspect of systems theory.

services and opportunities
I have been a negligent VANS member in the sense that my membership has lapsed at times. However, I believe that VANS is providing a host of services and opportunities for its members and the Nova Scotia arts community in general. I have personally been on a panel organized by VANS – a great experience – and have seen many artists, young and old, mentor and mentee have fulfilling experiences with the Mentorship Program. I am honored to have been a part of that program (2015-16) as a mentor.

garbage and dog parks
I recently completed Garbage, an architectural-scale series of panels that transform the gallery into a graphic novel. Each of the 18 “pages” of the story consists of painted panels on polystyrene that either make up a larger rectangle in the vertical proportions of a page of a book, or that comprise an assemblage of irregularly shaped image elements arrayed across the gallery wall. When assembled, the single “pages” each measure 8 x 6 feet; the larger assemblages occupy spaces measuring up to 11 x 26 feet. A catalogue was produced for the exhibition that puts the paintings back into a comic book form and this comic book was recently launched at the Toronto Comic Arts Book Fair.

At the moment I am working on Dog Park. Imagine a world where your sense of smell was 45 to 100 times more sensitive, you were colour blind to reds, oranges and yellows and your visual acuity was decreased by 75%. Smell becomes utterly urgent. This is the experience I am trying to address in an installation of both image-based and abstract elements that work together to portray a walk in the park from the perspective of my dog’s nose.

Learn more about Mathew Reichertz by visiting his website: or pick up a copy of his book Garbage at your local bookstore.

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