Kenneth Baker reviews Edwige Fouvry's exhibition "Ars Memoriae" for the San Francisco Chronicle

Edwige Fouvry: Re-embodied

April 2012

by Kenneth Baker

Fouvry at Dolby Chadwick: The recent work of Brussels painter Edwige Fouvry at Dolby Chadwick shows her engaged in an effort paralleling Fuss' to an extent.

Like him, she seems to want to reawaken a lost or dimmed sense of bodily immediacy that may have belonged to her medium in less image-riddled times.

"Le Voeu Secret" (2011), measuring about 5 by 4 feet, confronts us with the image of a head, probably but not certainly a woman's.

Le Voeu Secret, 2011 | Oil on Canvas | 62 x 47 Inches
Le Voeu Secret, 2011 | Oil on Canvas | 62 x 47 Inches

The space surrounding the figure is rich in optical cues - deep here, shallow there, pointedly ambiguous as to scale - but refuses to locate it legibly. Both the looseness of Fouvry's brushwork and the head's disconnection from the space around it lead us to see it not merely as isolated or afloat, but as severed.

The grayness of the face's complexion reinforces the repellent hint of a post-mortem view. The mind retreats to the fact that severed heads make many appearances in the history of art, frequently with biblical sources. But an echo of physical recoil persists.

Not all of Fouvry's work has the confrontational power of "Le Voeu Secret," but all of it reflects more or less her search for a body-to-body channel of communication with the work's viewers.

Her landscapes make a sweeter impression than most pictures in which human forms appear, but looking at them also involves a continual weighing of illusionistic promptings against the physical assertions of brush marks and color.

Drawing plays a visible part in Fouvry's address to a large canvas; but on paper, except at their most abstract, her marks turn crabbed and finicky. A page apparently lacks the open space her hand needs to outrun conscious intention.