BY MIMI BONHOMME
Mawt Trood (Mathieu Trudel) was an outstanding illustrator, artist, and VJ, and an integral part of Ottawa-Hull’s arts community. Since his death earlier this year, artists and friends have come together to organize events in his honour, one of which was long-overdue and a no-brainer: an exhibit of his artwork from concert posters to album covers, VJ visuals to illustrations of Ottawa-Hull mom and pop storefronts.
Mawt was the type of person you felt you’d known forever after just five minutes. With his no-filter personality, he connected easily with people, becoming comfortable with them quickly in a way that made it hard not to like him. His positive enthusiasm was intense—it left you high and motivated to do shit, which made him such an inspiring person to be around. His mile-a-minute brain never stopped thinking up new ideas.
Music was an integral part of his life. Always excited about the musicians and artists who inspired him, he was known to enthusiastically encourage and help anyone whose work he admired. He especially loved reaching out to punk and garage artists, as well as radio stations he spent hours listening to online. I was fortunate he reached out to me in 2012, to offer to create an animation for my radio show Mondo PQ on lesser-known Quebec 60s and 70s rock bands. The end result was a beautiful animation of artists that I regularly played. Creating art for others was his way of making connections and letting people know he loved them.
Vintage aesthetics filled his work. He drew inspiration from artists such as Blue Note’s Reid Miles, Hannah-Barbera, Ward Kimball, Jim Flora, or M. Sasek. (He was toying with the idea of doing a book called This is Ottawa, a wordplay on M. Sasek’s series of books for children, This is…). He loved movies, but was usually more interested in the cinematography and opening credit fonts than plot, and would actually sleep through anything that didn’t stimulate him visually. He was especially fond of Saul Bass, Terry Gilliam, and Wes Anderson—their influence is recognizable in his work.
Mawt’s profound intelligence—something he tended to downplay in his daily life—came alive in his art. A history buff, he was passionate about respecting authenticity in a city that destroys the old to glorify the new. Mawt froze moments in time, sketching and drawing spaces before they disappeared, and saw beauty in what many took for granted or found ugly. He loved maps, industrial spaces and landscapes, and was known for his illustrations of Ottawa-Hull mom and pop storefronts. His “Vieux-Hull” illustrated map is a masterpiece of precision and nostalgia. Only Mawt Trood could create maps of cities that are actually moving to look at. His collaboration with the fanzine Hulltramar showed his fondness for Old Hull and the many characters that made up the town he loved.
Mawt would regularly fill his social media accounts with sketches of different places, always introducing them with the almost philosophical question: “Where is Mawt Trood?” The answer is: everywhere.
Where is Mawt Trood? opens June 30 at Daïmon Gallery, 78 Hanson Street, in Gatineau. The June 30 vernissage will feature various VJs and DJs paying tribute to Mawt. The exhibit runs until July 31.