PINE NEEDLE CARPET, 2018–2020
pine needles and mosquito net
Courtesy to Molnár Ani Gallery
The Pine Needle Carpet was originally made for my one-man show in b32 Gallery, titled Herbarium.
When my father died, his beloved garden started to change (the plants started to grow uncontrollably, contract diseases, or even died), while it was bestowed upon me to take care of it. As I was unable to tend to the garden as diligently as my father, the constantly growing plants started to transform the garden itself: it soon ceased to function as a garden. It was alive, of course, but not in the way we would expect a garden to “live” – there was no order. This is a key element of the work: the universal human need to force everything into our own structure.
The Pine Needle Carpet is an excellent symbol for this man-devised structure.
The pine tree from the neighbour’s garden used to reach over into our property, so the ground was always covered in pine needles. My father used to collect these pine needles, while also trying to keep the branches in bay. When he stopped collecting the pine needles and cutting the branches, the pine needles quickly covered the ground like a thick carpet.
This piece is essentially a strip of “lawn” made of old and new pine needles, which I created by threading the pine needles through a mosquito net. By using both old and new needles, I managed to create an ombre look. As the leaves later dried out, the ombre effect disappeared and transformed into a rusty brown colour. This will also be the final look, since the tree has since been cut down, so I cannot harvest fresh leaves any more.
The process of threading the pine needles is a rather monotone, almost meditative activity, and perfectly symbolises the repetitive endlessness of gardening. In the hamster wheel of everyday life, however, it provides some well-needed respite: you cannot help but slow down and enter an altered state. Whenever I work on it, I lose track of time and only concentrate on the slowly but steadily growing piece.
The pine tree has since been cut down, therefore I will not be able to continue the carpet indefinitely, but even with the end in sight, the fate of the work is still uncertain. I cannot foresee the fate of the tiny leaves. Will the pine needles decompose? Will the mosquito net be torn after some time? There are a lot of unanswered questions.
I think it is also important to note that it is an artwork primarily defined by the mode of its presentation. The pine needles that were originally considered to be a nuisance were picked one by one and stuck into the mosquito net. This action, followed by the act of exhibiting the piece in a showroom, transformed this essentially useless natural material into a work of art.
Péter Mátyási (1982) was born in Budapest, where he lives and works. He graduated from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in 2009 as a painter after having finished a year at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. He has had solo and group shows in Hungary as well as internationally. He participated at top international art fairs such as the Armory Show in New York, Art Brussels and Artissima in Turin. In 2013 he won the Contemporary Pastel Prize and in 2016 he received the Pastel Society’s award and the grand prize of the Graphic Triennial of Salgótarján.