Vuu Duu
signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'M'6 Vuu Duu New York 2018 M'6 Milo Matthieu' (on the reverse)
resin-coated printed paper, oilstick, and acrylic on wood panel
3534 x 24 in. (91 x 60.6 cm.)
Executed in 2018.
Brooklyn Academy of Music, benefit auction, courtesy of the artist, 2020
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
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Lot Essay

Painted in 2018, Milo Matthieu’s Vuu Duu represents the artist’s fascination with introspection of the self with subtle art historical references. The subject of this piece is a distorted figure with a wide-eyed expression, gaping mouth, and arms flexed as if holding an invisible energy form. The figure is situated in the bottom half of the frame surrounded by the majority of the color and dimension of the piece while the top half is painted black as if covering something behind it with its thick, opaque texture.

Adding to the piece’s intrigue is the subtle nod to Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son, which depicts the Greek myth of Titan Cronus. According to legend, Cronus was so afraid that his next of kin would overthrow the thrown he took from his father, that he ate them upon birth. This fear was rooted in a prophecy that dictated he was destined to be overthrown by his sons, just as he did his father. This created a sense of paranoia in Cronus, and he worked to make sure this did not hold true so he could forever hold his power.

Matthieu’s Vuu duu calls upon that same sense of madness focused in his subjects eyes. In creating his works, Matthieu practices “psychic autonomism”—an autonomous process popular among Surrealist and Dada circles. The results are vivid, highly textured portraits that come from unguarded, in-the-moment manifestations of his subconscious. Fractured faces and planes convey the artist’s often uneasy emotional terrain.

Vuu Duu is an incredible example of a modern artist harnessing past movements to provoke the minds of the future. His curiosity surrounding the introspection of the self shines through in this work by delicately showcasing one of the most morally complex and tortured figures in history.

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