There is maybe no extract of literature in the world that better captures my far-off perception of French model Matthieu Charneau than that from Sebastien Japrisot’s A Very Long Engagement. Says he of one of the ill-fated solders in the opening chapter:
His name was Angel… He was almost as beautiful as an angel… and attractive to women, even virtuous ones. He was slender, sinewy, with eyes darker and more mysterious than the night, two dimples flanking his smile and another gracing his chin, a nose just Neapolitan enough to earn him the proud distinction of a barracks tag (“Big conk, big cock”), thick hair, a princely moustache, an accent softer than a song, and, above all, the general air of someone to whom love is due as a matter of course.
It is such a duality of cherub-come-fallen-man in Matthieu that captures my fascination. In him one beholds something of the innocence and chastity of the angelic juxtaposed with the cunning and seduction of the serpent in Eden. Simply put, Matthieu Charneau is a chimera of the highest order, in countenance and soul!
Those who are familiar with ancient mythology will know that a chimera is a fantastical creature composed of the parts of multifarious animals or, according to the subject of biology, a single animal organism with genetically distinct cells from two different zygotes. In layman terms we can simply say it is the presence of more than one distinct characteristic in a creature, that produces a duality within it. And this sense of chimerism best describes the beauty of Matthieu Charneau.
I want to believe that it’s this air of chimerism about Matthieu that prompted the titans of creative house Exterface to select him for their latest advertising campaign for SLICK IT UP. In it is captured the very essence of Matthieu, wherein you don’t know if he’s going to transport you to the heavens in the angelic voice of the castratti, or – quoting Eccentrica Gallumbits –if he’s going to be “the best bang since the Big One.” Whichever it is, one thing is irrevocable: I want to behold more of the chimera Matthieu Charneau.
And behold him we must, for such dualism of beauty is not to be merely seen. Glance at it and you are awestruck, look at it and it eludes you like a fleeting thought, but behold it as of one paying obeisance to the divine and you, your self, are enamoured of it and transformed – maybe even into its likeness.
Had Matthieu lived in ancient Greece or Rome, even the gods would have sought to wait upon him, for he is Narcissus reborn.
My one prayer is this, that before my body returns to the earth from whence it came, that I may be granted the honour to behold this incomprehensible beauty in the flesh and, in the manner of others before me, capture its essence and form in photo.
Follow Matthieu on Matthieu Charneau Official.
Photography © Exterface and Matthieu Charneau.
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