Chief Mourner


Typical character from the Society Islands, in the late 1700s, 
 the Chief Mourner is the one who leads grieving at a funeral. 

With his apron, his mask, his tropical feathers and his Pacific pearl shell, 
 he presides here at the funeral of the Lake Mead and its water reserve.

Located in Nevada and Arizona, this artificial lake supplies water to both states 

but also to California. For more than 30 years, water levels have been declining steeply, 
 to the point that former cities engulfed during the creation of Lake Mead reappear regularly.

Its overexploitation could lead to its draining in a few years.

New Zealander living in Las Vegas, Matthew Couper compares in this anachronistic 
 allegory the ancestral esoteric rites of the South Pacific to the current ecological 
 and industrial disasters of the west coast of the United States.

Among other things, there is a dark phoenix carrying a coffin, caricaturing the emblem of 
 American national pride, and a dowser's Y-shaped rod to look for the last drops...

Accomplished and printed at the heart of Paris, on a 19th century lithographic press,

"The Chief Mourner and the Last drops" is the first lithograph made by Matthew Couper. The effort on textures with many different tools is highlighted by the black colour that gives a strong contrast, letting light come from within the drawing. 

A slightly warmer than the paper hue was printed as a background, reminding the colour of the employed stone, as if to recreate the object, disappeared after the drawing was erased. This tint also gives an ancient style to the work as if the disaster illustrated by the disillusioned artist had been announced and could have been avoided.


Artist: Matthew Couper
Title: The Chief Mourner and The Last Drops
Year created: 2017

Medium: 2 colour, original lithograph BFK Rives 250g 100% cotton paper
Dimensions: 57 x 76cm / 22.4” x 29.9” unframed

Edition: of 40 numbered and signed Idem Paris embossing
Singed: numbered and dated bottom front

Price: NZD $1,000 inc delivery

Watch the artist create the work at IDEM, in Paris

Part One: Creation
Part Two: Process

All images are courtesy of Koméla and the artist. This lithograph is published by editions Koméla and printed at Idem Paris (former atelier Mourlot).