About MatWay (Matvey Slavin) - Neo-Grattage - Engraved Paintings

Etching into the Surface of Time 

Exploring the deeper dimensions beyond appearances:

Matvey Slavin´s Engraved Paintings

In various ways, Der Momentfänger (Catcher of the Moment) created by Matvey Slavin in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic set off a worldwide state of emergency, is a key work. It depicts the artist standing at the easel in a landscape, which he is evidently rendering on the mounted canvas. The hat worn by the artist while working on his painting also serves in a stylized form as a signet, a fusion of Matvey Slavin ´s initials ‘M’ and ‘S’. Both the self-portrait emerging from contours, and the landscape reduced to outlines and etched into the painted surface, remotely recall compositions by Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890). This is surely no coincidence: In  Matvey Slavin´s work art-historical references, montages of citations derived from a wide range of sources, and pictures within pictures are fundamental elements that recur in different shapes.The term Der Momentfänger (The Catcher of the Moment) reflects the artist's consistent interconnection of various aesthetic dynamics, spatial, and temporal levels quasi at “the tip of the moment”in the instant of the respective representation. The aforementioned work revolves just as much around the making of pictures as around the coexistence of different phenomena in the flow of time, which converge in a “simultaneous image,”becoming part of an expanding narrative.

Matvey Slavin's origins lie in landscape painting, which from 2006 onward was increasingly replaced by pencil drawings of everyday urban life, from which the Zeitbilder (Temporal Images) evolved. The starting point of this series was a long-term exploration of the northern German harbor city of Hamburg, where the artist, born in 1987 in St. Petersburg, spent his youth. In Hamburg, he studied at the University of Applied Sciences and the University of Fine Arts. In the course of an exchange program in 2013, he attended the class of the painter Daniel Richter (*1961) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Here, he experimented with manifold print and etching techniques, developing from these his own unique engraved painting style, which since then has become his primary medium.

His method of etching pictorial motifs into layers of impasto acrylic paint on the canvas is a present-day revitalization of the grattage (Engl.: scraped/scratched work), which the innovative Dada-Surrealist Max Ernst (1891–1976) conceived after inventing the frottage (Engl.: rubbing). Subsequent to Max Ernst, representatives of the post-war avant-garde such as Art Brut initiator Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985), or the abstract-expressive creator of mythical ciphers, Cy Twombly (1928–2011), also took up the grattagetechnique. In his view, Engraved Paintings offer Matvey Slavin, who has been living and working in Copenhagen since 2017, the possibility of conflating the quick tempo of drawing, the multi-layered complexity of painting, and minimalist conciseness with the immediacy of the incisions on the surface. As the artist states, “etching is like writing.”3

Accordingly, he regards Engraved Paintings as an intertemporal “associative language,” which reaches into the depths of the material and of history, spanning an arc to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Roman inscriptions, all the way back to the cave paintings of our ancestors. Acrylic paint, which the artist applies alla prima directly to the canvas in at least two layers with his hands, comprises the ground of his works. The top layer is incised with tools such as metal nails and palette knives while it is still wet, so that the pictorial motif becomes visible through the contrasting color of the underlying layer. Although the artist does not render his subjects in a naturalistic fashion, these are often drawn from his own personal reality. Recollected and imaginary scenes are combined with self-produced or archived photographs as well as art-related documents, which partially have been digitally arranged into composite scenes beforehand at the computer. In the physical traces imprinted in Engraved Paintings, the impressions and visual evidence of experienced reality, which from the very beginning specifically included reflections on the art world, its products, and events, find concrete expression. These are haptic manifestations, which translate Roland Barthes's idea of photography as “an image rubbed off from the real”into palpable materiality.

Humorous accentuation, clashes between seemingly contradictory elements, dreamlike scenes, the spontaneity of the sketch, a paring down to the essentials: Matvey Slavin neo-surreal grattages not only operate between the times and locations, but also between mediums and atmospheres, internal and external perspectives, the unspectacular and the exceptional.

Predominantly realized in thematic groups, since 2013 their subject-matter has ranged from a focus on everyday life at the academy in Vienna, including classroom, studio, and exhibition situations, to portraits, landscapes, and interiors.The artist's approach varies between cartoon-like condensation and filigree complexity, which has still increased in recent years. Thus, a number of engraved paintings created in 2018, which recall René Magritte's “mystification of the everyday and the banal,”5feature intricately interwoven forest segments, in which simplified pictorial symbolssuch as a cloud, a hat, or boot, a house, or a trophy reveal further ramified wooded areas that have been inserted in these.

Self-portraits produced in 2019 on one occasion represent the artist sitting at an easel in front of the painting of a couple in the landscape (Indoor Plein Air), and, in another instance, depict him seated with a drink at the table of a sidewalk café (Porter og Citronvand), which is situated in Matvey Slavin´s new adopted hometown, Copenhagen.The subdued chiaroscuro hues of the latter scene prefigure those in the series Die maskierten Ostergenießer (The Masked Easter Enjoyers, 2020), which is dominated by grisaille tones, evoking the inversion of photographic negative images and half-tones of aquatint ink etching. On the one hand, it recalls an Easter ritual celebrated by the family of Matvey Slavin´s partner and collaborator in joint performances, the Copenhagen-born artist Nana Rosenørn Holland Bastrup. On the other hand, in its phantasmagoric imagery with the figures costumed as Easter bunnies and chicks, gathered around opulently laden tables and folding chairs in the garden, it tilts into the surreal.

In a different manner, the series Blumenköpfe (Flower Heads, from 2020 onward), in which flowers equipped with heads instead of calyxes are depicted in vases bearing facial features, also revolves around masks, which gained acute relevance in 2020 in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. While the work Blaue Blumenköpfe (Blue Flower Heads, 2020) recalls Van Gogh's Sunflowers (1888), other flower-head conglomerates invoke the masked beings of the Belgian Symbolist James Ensor (1860–1949). A large-format interior scene, finally, created in 2020 and titled Я рисую, следовательно, я есьм. I draw, therefore I am, may be interpreted as a kind of aesthetic program of the artist. In a crimson-hued studio sphere, central representations of art and cultural history, such as the prehistoric Venus of Willendorf, ancient Egyptian figures, or a painting by the Dutch constructivist Piet Mondrian (1872–1944) are united: Like a visual network of inspiration, they enter into a dialogue on the wall of the represented room with some of Matvey Slavin´s Engraved Paintings from the groups mentioned earlier. The artist himself, his face hidden by an Ensor mask, is gazing out at the viewer. In front of him, a laptop is placed on top of the table, and next to it a vase of Flower Heads, accompanied by a Russian Cheburashka doll. On the wall to the side, the line: Я рисую = я есьм (Engl.: I draw = I am) is displayed in Old Russian on a television screen. 

Here, as both the author and subject of his work, Matvey Slavin in a way becomes one with his “pictorial notes on life.”His “documents for our time,”where he embarks on a cognitive quest into the deeper dimensions behind the appearances of reality, simultaneously serve as repositories of transcultural, era-spanning memory and as sites of exploring his own existence and self-understanding as a painter traversing the tracks of contemporary modern life.

Belinda Grace Gardner, 2020


1Cf. Gottfried Boehm, “Bild und Zeit,” in: Das Phänomen Zeit in Kunst und Wissenschaft, ed. by Hannelore Paflik, Weinheim: VCH, Acta Humaniora, 1987, p. 18.

2Ibid., p. 21.

3Matvey Slavin in a telephone conversation with the author on November 30, 2020.


5Cf. Roland Barthes: Die helle Kammer. Bemerkung zur Photographie, from the French by Dietrich Leube, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, p. 126. [Emphasis in the original].

6Cf. Uwe M. Schneede: Die Kunst des Surrealismus. Malerei, Skulptur, Dichtung, Fotografie, Film, Munich: C.H. Beck, 2006, p. 114.

7Matvey Slavin in a telephone conversation with the author (see note 3).


[All Engl. quotes are the author's translation from the German.]


MatWay - Paintings - Neo-Grattage - Engraved Paintings 

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MatWay - CV

1987 born in Saint Petersburg, Russia

2000 moved to Hamburg, Germany

2017 moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he lives and works today


2011 graduated from Hamburg University of Applied Sciences Design, Media and Information (prof. Erhard Göttlicher)

2015 graduated from University of Fine Arts of Hamburg (prof. Markus Vater)

2013-2014 attended a semester at Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (prof. Daniel Richter)

Artist-in-residence / work grants

2014-2015 at Künstlerhaus Meinersen, DE-Meinersen (1 year)

2016 at Künstlerhaus im Schlossgarten, DE-Cuxhaven (6 months)

2018 at Katholische Akademie Schwerte, DE-Schwerte (3 months)

Group exhibitions (selected)

2022 UDS 22 - Ung Dansk Samtidstkunst, Kunstbygningen, Vrå, Denmark

          KP 22 - Kunstnernes Påskeudstilling, Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark

          Pleinair Ausstellung 7 Malen Dölln, Galerie im Neuen Rathaus, Templin, Germany

2021  REMIX #7, kunstmix Pop-Up, Galleri Fjellvang, Copenhagen, Denmark

          Galleri47s Juleudstilling, Galleri47, Næstved, Denmark

          The Krunchist Movement III, Blaa Galleri, Copenhagen, Denmark

          The Beginning Galleri 47, Næstved, Denmark

          Krunchist Movement II, Blaa Galleri, Copenhagen, Denmark

          7 malen Uckermark Pleinairmalerei in Gross Dölln, Galerie Hennwack, Berlin, Germany              

          The Krunchist Movement, Blaa Galleri, Copenhagen, Denmark

          Between Waves, Blaa Galleri, Copenhagen, Denmark

          7 malen in Dölln. Ergebnisse eines Kuenstlertreffens, Kunstverein, Schwedt, Germany

          Efter-Billeder, JANUS- Vestjyllands Kunstmuseum, Tistrup, Denmark

          20 x Testimony Kunsthal, Vejle, Denmark

2020  Ohne Einschraenkung: KUNST, Galerie subjectobject, Berlin, Denmark

          Lebenszeichen Katholische Akademie, Schwerte, Germany

          Art of Giving. SIRIN Copenhagen Gallery, Copenhagen, Germany

          Efter-billeder. SAK i sammenarbejde med Vestjyllands Kunstmuseum, Svendborg, Denmark 

          Corona Confinement Blues, Blaa Galleri, Copenhagen, Denmark

          By og Land, Galleri 2132, Roslev, Denmark

2019 Remix #6, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

          Kunst im August, Galerie subject object, Berlin, Germany

          Plein Air, Glyngoere Kulturstation-Museum, Salling, Denmark

          Remix #5, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

2018 Remix #4, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

          URBAN 2018, Maerz contemporary, Molde, Norway

          Remix #3, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

2017 Remix #2, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

          Artgeschoss 2017, ARTGESCHOSS, Berlin, Germany

          Aus der Natur, Kunstverein, Barsinghausen, Germany

          Remix #1, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

          Spurensuche, Kunstverein, Schwedt, Germany

          Sommer in Hamburg, Galerie des Hotels Grand Elysee, Hamburg, Germany

          3653 x JA, Galerie subject object, Berlin, Germany

2016 Die Farben des Winters, Museen im Kulturzentrum, Rendsburg, Germany

          Die Farben des Winters, Kunsthaus Muellers, Rendsburg, Germany

2015 Erinnerung, Galerie Hengevoss-Duerkop, Hamburg, Germany

          Sommersausstellung, Galerie Halbach, Celle, Germany

2014 Chill Out!, Galerie Hengevoss-Duerkop, Hamburg, Germany

          Zimmer Frei, Museet paa Koldinghus, Kolding, Denamark

          Wuk Exhibition Ubik Bueller-S Day Off, Ubic Space, Vienna, Austria

          Xzbit - Die Ausstellung, projekthaus, Hamburg, Germany

          Acchrochage, Galerie Rose, Hamburg, Germany

2013 KurtSalon, Galerie Kurt im Hirsch, Berlin, Germany

          Norddeutsche Realisten - Meinersen 2013 - Eine Bestandaufnahme,

          Kuenstlerhaus, Meinersen, Germany

          Kunst am Bodden, Galerie der Farbrique, Gängeviertel, Hamburg, Germany

          HEUTE,- Ultramarin, Galerie Hinterconti, Hamburg, Germany

          Galore 2013, Valby Kulturhus, Copenhagen, Denmark

          Kunst - Landschaft - Moelln neue Stadtansichten, Möllner Museum, Mölln, Germany

          HEUTE,- Zitate und Zutaten, Galerie KUB, Leipzig, Germany

          Kuenstler der Galerie, Kunsthaus Muellers, Rendsburg, Germany

          Norddeutsche Realisten in Hohwacht, Kunsthaus Müllers, Rendsburg, Germany

          Speicherplatz, Nullunendlich, Leipzig, Germany

          HEUTE,- Groteske Wirklichkeit, Galerie affenfaust, Hamburg, Germany

2012 HEUTE,- Momente, Galerie Hafentor 7, Hamburg, Germany

          Die Bionale - Zwischen Ackerbau und Hochkultur, Galerie der HFBK,

          Hamburg, Germany

          Zeitgeist, Fabrik der Kuenste, Hamburg, Germany

          Macht Spass, Galerie Raum linksrechts, Hamburg, Germany

          Ideen von Landschaft, Jenisch Haus, Hamburg, Germany

          Pappdemokratie, Künstlerhaus Vorwerkstift. Hamburg, Germany

2011 Heute, Kunsthaus Speckstrasse, Gängeviertel, Hamburg, Germany

          Galore 2011 - Valby Kulturhus, Copenhagen, Denmark

          Antlitz, Bildnis, Conterfey, Frappant, Hamburg, Germany

2010 Experiment 010 - Kulturforum Schwimmhalle Schloss, Ploen, Germany

          Hamburger Stadtteile, Fabrik der Künste, Hamburg, Germany

          Zeitgenössischer Mythos, Kunsthaus Speckstrasse, Gaengeviertel, Hamburg,


2009 Cartel 21, Fabrik Gaengeviertel, Hamburg, Germany

2008 Russische Variationen, Stiftung Landdrostei, Pinneberg, Germany

          wandsbektranformance. Die Gegenwart des Kolonialen. Kunsthaus, Hamburg,


Solo exhibitions

2022 Mat Vey - Neo-Grattage, Studio Kastelsvej, Copenhagen, Denmark

2021 SKAKMAT, Blaa Galleri, Copenhagen, Denmark

         Tugend und Suende, Katholische Akademie, Schwerte, Denmark

2020 Tugend und Suende, Bank fuer Kirche und Caritas, Paderborn, Germany

2019 Copenhagen Open Air, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

2018 Image Hunter, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

         Image Hunter, Katholische Akademie, Schwerte, Germany

2017 Fiction Factory, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

2016 Geflasht von Trash, Galerie OST-ART im Kulturring, Berlin, Germany

2011 Hamburger Landschaften, Galerie Kunst-nah, Hamburg, Germany

2008 Die Elbe von der Speicherstadt bis Blankenese - KulturForum Altona, Hamburg, Germany

Duo exhibitions (selected)

*(ET = Enfants Terribles - Nana Bastrup & Matvey Slavin)


Greifbar, BLAA Galleri, Copenhagen, Denmark


Open Up, Galerie subjectobject, Berlin, Germany


ET - Yellow Popdada, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

ET - Red Popdada, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark


ET - Von nix kommt nix, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

ET - Popdadaistische Blabla- & Laufbilder, Galerie 149, Bremerhaven, Germany

ET - Berliner Kuriositaeten, Studio Bildende Kunst im Kulturring, Berlin, Germany

ET - Popdada-Dadapop, galleri kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark


ET - Popdada, Galerie subject-object, Berlin, Germany

ET - Laufbilder - Cuxhavener Kuriositäten, Künstlerhaus im Schloßgart, Cuxhaven, Denmark

ET - Wir sind soweit, Kuenstlerhaus im Schloßgarten, Cuxhaven, Germany

ET - Enfants Terribles, Huset, Asnaes, Denmark


ET - Kribbel-Krabbel, Künstlerhaus, Meinersen, Germany


ET - Laufbilder, Ubik Space, AT-Vienna

ET - Laufbilder & Videoskulpturen, Galerie Hengevoss-Dürkop. Hamburg, Germany

ET - Kinder der Louise B., Kunstverein Barsinghausen, Germany


ET - Viking Revival, Galleri Labr, Roskilde, Denmark

ET - Inszenierte Träume I + II, Galerie Kurt im Hirsch, Berlin, Germany


ET - Vernetzt, Bräuning Contemporary, Hamburg, Germany

Mensch und Ware, Altonaer Museum, Hamburg, Germany

Public Happening / Duo Enfants Terribles (selected)


23.04. - 25.07. ET - Wir sind soweit, seid Ihr bereit?, Künstlerhaus im Schlossgarten, Cuxhaven, Germany


27.08. ET - Kære gallerist, Bredgade, Copenhagen, Denmark


01.08. ET - Die sieben Matveys, by the Nanas, Leineufer, Hannover, Germany

28.03. - 01.04. ET - Aufstieg der Ameisen, Künstlerhaus Meinersen, Meinersen, Germany


31.08.ET - Konsumschwein, Fischmarkt - Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg, Germany

10.05. ET -Enfants Terribles, Aussenplateau der Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany


Catalogues/books (selected)


REMIX #7, Matvey Slavin: s. 29-87 Tekst: Harald Holst, Jegor Fetisov

Published by: kunstmix, Copenhagen, Denmark

ISBN 978-87-93898-03-5


Matvey Slavin: SKAKMAT Tekst: Harald Holst

Published by: Blaa Press, Copenhagen, Denmark

ISBN 978-87-973618-0-1


Matvey Slavin: Copenhagen Open Air

Published by: kunstmix Copenhagen, Denmark

Texts: Nana Bastrup, Tom Joergensen

German, English, 84 pages

ISBN 978-87-93898-00-4


Matvey Slavin: Image Hunter

Published by: Stefanie Lieb, Verlag Katholische Akademie, Schwerte, Germany

Texts: Peter Klasvogt, Stefanie Lieb

German, 88 pages

 ISBN 978-3-927382-76-3


Aus der Natur - Nana ET Matvey + Maike Graef

Published by: Kunstverein Barsinghausen, Germany

Text: Friedrich Holtiegel

German, 30 pages

ISBN: 978-3-945527-08-5


ET - Popdada

Published by: Galerie subject object, Berlin, Germany

Text: Ljiljana Vulin-Hinrichs

German, 36 pages

Unique drawings, limited numbered, signed edition


ET - Laufbilder - Cuxhavener Kuriositäten

Published by and Text: Nana Bastrup & Matvey Slavin, Cuxhaven, Germany,

36 pages

Unique drawing, limited numbered, signed edition


Katalog Hamburger Landschaften

Publisher by: Akademiker Verlag, Germany 

52 pages

ISBN 978-3-639-86498-4


Zeitbilder - Matvey Slavin

Published by: Irmgard Bösenberg, Meinersen, Germany

Text: Belinda Grace Gardner

48 pages

ISBN 978-3-00-050176-0.


ET - Footwork

Published by: Galerie Hengevoss-Dürkop, Hamburg, Germany

Text: Kerstin Hengevoss-Dürkop, John Czaplicka, Matthias Schatz

English, 80 pages + DVD

ISBN: 978-3-00-049805-3


ET - 3 Years Enfants Terribles

Published by: Nana Bastrup, Matvey Slavin, Meinersen, Germany 

Text: Kerstin Hengevoss-Dürkop, John Czaplicka, Michael Stöber,

Merle Radtke, Hanna Richter-Kiewning, Friedrich Holtiegel

 Danish, English, German, Russian, 344 pages

 ISBN: 978-3-00-049034-7


ET - Enfants Terribles

Published by: Nana Bastrup & Matvey Slavin, Hamburg, Germany

Text: Michael Stoeber

German, English, 100 pages

ISBN: 978-3-00-047552-8

Unique drawing, limited, numbered, signed edition


ET - Enfants Terribles - Kinder der Louise B.

Published by: Kunstverein Barsinghausen, Germany

Text: Friedrich Holtiegel, Joachim Voss

German, 31 pages 

ISBN: 978-3-945527-00-9


ET - Laufbilder

Published by: Nana Bastrup & Matvey Slavin, Hamburg, Germany

Text: Viola F. Holtz, Hanna Richter-Kiewning 

German, 100 pages

ISBN: 978-3-00-045152-2


ZIMMER FREI Unge kunstnere genopdager kongeslottet

Publisher: Axel Johnsen & Museet paa Koldinghus, Denmar

Texts: Anders Scrmn Meisner, Anna Bak, Axel Johnsen, Dan Stockholm, Eske  Rex, Jacob Taekker, Lotte Agger, Mia Helmer,

Mie Lund Hansen, Michael Wuertz Overbeck, Nanna Riis Andersen, Nana Bastrup & Matvey Slavin, Niels Pugholm, Nina

Saunders, Søren Behncke, Timo Andersen, Ulla Bech-Bruun

Danish, 17 pages

ISBN: 978-87-87152-64-8


Meinersen - Eine Bestandaufnahme

Publisher: Dirk Bösenberg, Ernst Posselt. Meinersen, Germany, 121 pages

ISBN 978-3-00-046560-4


KUNST LANDSCHAFT MÖLLN - Neue Stadtansichten

Publisher: Stadt Mölln/ Moellner Museum Historisches Rathaus. Mölln. 2013

Text: Michael Packheiser

German, 44 pages


ET - Enfants Terribles

Published by: Bräuning Contemporary, Hamburg, Germany

Text: Till Bräuning   

German, 25 pages

ISBN: 978-3-00-039981-7


Die Norddeutschen Realisten. Symposium 2012 in Hohwacht am Genueser Schiff

Publisher: MCM ART Verlag, Berlin 2012

Editor: Christopher Lehmpfuhl, Berlin

Text: Uwe Haupenthal

German, 92 pages

ISBN 978-39815169-3-7


Matvey Slavin - Hamburger Landschaften

Publisher: Matvey Slavin. Hamburg, Germany

German, 38 pages

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