Dolby Chadwick gallery is pleased to announce Ô temps, suspends ton vol !, an exhibition of new work by French-born artist Edwige Fouvry, on view April 7-30, 2016. French for “Oh Time, Stop Flying,” the exhibition title alludes to Alphonse de Lamartine’s 1820 poem ‘The Lake,’ a meditation on the constant passage of time.
Although clearly embedded in a visual awareness of the physical world, Edwige Fouvry’s paintings are never made directly from life. Instead, they are complex syntheses wrought by her imagination. By knitting together childhood recollections, photographs old and new, the moving world seen from the windows of trains, stills harvested from the television set and other media, Fouvry pursues an “emotional truth” in which the recorded, the remembered, and the imagined must each play a role.
The evolution of Fouvry’s style since her days at Belgium’s prestigious La Cambre school has been, in a very important sense, a process of simplification. While she has added extensively to her repertoire over the years, she has at the same time gradually stripped from her work any affect that emphasizes concept over the viewer’s personal encounter with the work. Even the complexity of external narrative has been plucked away, leaving in its place the self-sufficiency, the immediacy, and the generous elasticity of poetry. Her art is a door through which she invites us to visit a deeply personal, deeply subjective, space, to have an experience that is far more sensual than notional, far more emotional than theoretical.
Even in her portraits, Fouvry clearly prioritizes personal vision over representation. Inspired by the sculptural solidity and brushwork of Lucien Freud (1922–2011), she replaces his insistence on sure and specific physicality with an embrace of the uncertain, and the search for an intuitive connection. More fundamentally, Fouvry’s portraits are not begun with any specific person in mind, rejecting the most basic assumptions of conventional portrait painting. Thus such powerful portraits as Martin (2015) refuse to be portraiture in any traditional sense: Martin is not painted from images of, nor does it physically resemble, the artist’s friend Martin. Instead it came, through the process of painting, to offer what Fouvry calls “an emotional resemblance,” one transformed into a portrait by the artist’s faith in memory and sensuality, despite the fact that it is not a likeness.
Similar forces of transformation are at work in Fouvry’s landscapes. One of the key inspirations for pieces such as Marais Poitevin (2015) is German painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840). His Romantic influence is clearly present in the way Fouvry sets monumental features – in Marais Poitevin even the sky has a remarkably solidity – against a deep, atmospheric perspective that underlines nature’s mystic immensity. Friedrich provided the viewer with a stand-in—the lone hiker, seen from behind, the “wanderer in the sea of fog” looking on the audience’s behalf at the grandeur of creation. Fouvry has no need for a fictional representative, with all the narrative implications such a figure entails. In Fouvry’s landscapes, the viewer is the wanderer, and the painting the view. As in the portraits, the scene is a composite, in no way visually specific to the place of the title. In fact, Marais Poitevin is among those works that Fouvry has occasionally allowed others to name for her, letting the strength of a viewer’s emotional response “finish” the image by titling it.
The alchemical and improvisational nature of Fouvry’s work surely holds the secret to its almost stately tenderness: it never mounts an unquestioned, unilateral view. In place of the singular, Fouvry offers a plurality, a weaving together of diverse moments across places and times that must, by its nature, be sympathetic to difference. This sympathy is reflected in the artist’s profound reluctance to leave any line unbroken or lay any area of color uninterrupted: those are the types of absolutes against which Fouvry’s embrace of memory acts as guardian, a counterbalance to the cold certitude of the eye. As the artist notes, “When you try to recall a place or a person, you form an image, but you also experience an emotion: the visual becomes the emotional.”
Edwige Fouvry was born in Nantes, France, in 1970, and currently lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. She received her Masters degree from École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels de la Cambre in Brussels in1996. She has exhibiting widely across Europe and North America and participated in the 2011 group exhibition HEADS, curated by Peter Selz, at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery in March 2011. Her work has been reviewed in Art Ltd., Artension and The San Francisco Chronicle. This will be her third solo exhibition at the gallery.