Merci d’enlever vos chaussures à l’entrée. I do as expected, taking my shoes off, when entering the Parisian gallery Art : Concept. This gesture is accompanied by an unfamiliar feeling in a public gallery space, triggering a sense of intimacy. I am now allowed to touch the warm and soft carpet covering the gallery’s floor: this chemical-looking sea, as described in the press release, provides a smooth, yet somewhat disturbing ground for the works of the French artist Richard Fauguet. The bright yellow color is flashing in my eyes. Still, I feel comfortable walking around in the space, feels like I’m entering someone’s living room.
In the first room of the gallery, a selection of clay heads can be found lying on the floor, displaying the latest work of Fauguet. A moment of tranquility is present, as if the heads were floating, or rather, drifting in the space. Yet, there is a strong feeling of scrutiny announcing its presence – but who is observing who, I am not so sure about. In this personal exhibition of the artist, entitled aptly Bivalve & Monocouche, Fauguet proposes sculptures of clay heads, double faces to be exact, whose eyes are formed of bivalves with empty shells. This rather sculptural, or collage-like approach is contrasted with the use of cubis: folio containers, which are often used for cheap wine, serve as pillows for the resting heads. These marine creatures, devoid of any possible body language, with their poignant, yet empty eyes, evoke inevitably the question on portrait. More precisely, a study on woman portrait is proposed, however through a curious notion of aesthetics: distorted, even dreadful Gorgon figures are suggested with a highly organic approach.
The exhibition continues in a smaller room located at the back of the gallery space, where we can once again find clay heads, this time accompanied by glass plate drawings installed on a shelf. This creates a dynamic interplay in the gallery space, when proposing a different kind of study on distorted feminine figures. Once again, something bothering is present: this time seducing poses are disturbed by the visible crack-like compositions on the plate. Again, an act of seduction is taking place, but the abstract figures remain still inaccessible. I can see my own gaze and figure reflecting from the glass.
Bivalve & Monocouche as an entity reveals to be a collage: a combination of several types of universes, one being essentially organic, even raw, yet combined with a world of still poses and empty-looking eyes. Perhaps a suggestion of a double-headed figure of the God Janus, marking a passageway, a beginning and an ending, or rather a proposal of a figure of Narcissus? This is left open, but the artist succeeds in proposing multiple concurrent universes, and the exhibition as a whole takes shape of a collage, which is constantly being reframed.
Concerning the history of portraiture, a citation of Georges Didi-Huberman seems apt to end this text, as used in the press release: “The tradition of portrait maybe began the day when our eyes looked down with terror and dismay at a loved and familiar face fallen to the floor and never to get up again” (Georges Didi-Huberman: “Le Visage et la Terre” in Artstudio, summer 1991, n°21).
Richard Fauguet was born in 1962 in La Châtre. He lives and works in Châteauroux. His work has been purchased by numerous public collections among which: Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris; Frac Île-de-France, Paris; Frac Limousin, Limoges; MAC/VAL, Vitry-sur-Seine and Les Abattoirs, Toulouse. Several personal exhibitions have been consecrated to his work in the last years: Vivement demain, MAC/VAL, Vitry-sur-Seine (2012) ; Selon Arrivage, Art : Concept, Paris (2011) ; Ni vu, ni Connu, Frac Limousin, Limoges (2011) ; Pas vu, pas pris, frac Île-de-France, Paris (2009).