Rainer Mora Mathews

Richard Murphett

Rainer Mora Mathews, Dead Lions

Rainer Mora Mathews, Dead Lions

Rainer Mora Mathews has exhibited as a cartoonist since he was 10. Now in his late 20s, he’s been working on Dead Lions (from the verse in Ecclesiastes: “for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything”) for several years. It’s extraordinarily ambitious: a 300-page investigation of how we relate to our ancestors. The narrative stems from Mora Mathews’ fascination with his own ancestry: the experiences of his father’s family as Jewish Holocaust survivors and his mother’s Australian forebears’ role in removing Aboriginal people from their land.

Woven into this narrative is a series of archetypal myths from the Jewish and Western European tradition that reflect on ancestral relations. The comic form, which is a key creative paradigm for Mora Mathews (“this is not a novel nor a storyboard for a film”) enables a visual progression through which the ancestors or ‘dead lions’ take shape in the background, becomingly increasingly involved with the ‘live’ action in the foreground. This isn’t visual philosophy of the ‘Freud for Beginners’ variety but the telling of stories in ways that elicit philosophical reflection. The fusion is understandable. Mora Mathews’ mother, Freya Mathews, is one of Australia’s leading eco-philosophers. His father, Philippe Mora, the filmmaker, once drew comics, and his grandmother, Mirka Mora’s paintings seem strongly influenced by the comic form. Rainer Mora Mathews has hibernated north of Bendigo for the past 6 months, finishing his opus. Dead Lions is an epic of the Euro-Australian experience.

RealTime issue #57 Oct-Nov 2003 pg. 34

© Richard Murphet; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 2003
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