by Peter Selz
This show, titled Ars Memoriae, marks Edwige Fouvry's first solo show in the US. Fouvry is a French artist living in Belgium, where her work has been exhibited since 1995. Antecedents for her highly original painting, which render the human figure with discomforting intimacy, can be seen in paintings by Oskar Kokoschka, Lucien Freud and Marlene Dumas. Observation, memory and imagination interact in Fouvry's painterly response to figures and faces, and, now also to landscape. These are intimate paintings, not large in scale, and done with a fluid, elegant brush, creating a smooth texture for canvases of modulated luminous color. A blood red surrounding the eyes in the woman's head in Portrait de Nuit (2011), evokes a feeling of sorrow, if not pain. This painting, like other renditions of the human face, in Le Voeu Secret (The Secret Wish) (2011) and the tragic Seul (Alone) (2011), are mysterious images of vulnerability and endurance. They call to mind philosopher Martin Buber's famous essay "I and Thou," in which he postulated the concept of "Dialogical Encounter." In these paintings by Fouvry, we are dealing with a painter whose committed encounters with her subjects evokes in turn the viewer's resonant response.
A photograph of her grandparents' wedding, transmuted by the artist's memory and feelings, is the source of Le Mariage (2011). The wedding took place in the countryside and the painter has the couple emerge from a dark forest, the grandfather still partly covered by the trees, while his wife, in contrast to his blue-black person, is painted in off-white with a patch of yellow, further highlighting the contrast between the male and female. A diagonal branch cuts across the couple on the bottom, separating them from the viewer's access. There are also a number of small landscapes in the show, as well as the large L'arrrivee a Donant (Arriving in Donant) (2011). Donant is an island off the coast of Brittany and Fouvry responded to this wild landscape by painting a dark mass of trees on a wide white river flowing slowly down the very edge of the canvas. Above the river, separated only by a thin strip of land, is a large sky, rendered with a bluish tint in a painting, which, it seems to me, is a visual dialogue between earth and sky.
Edwige Fouvry | Portrait de Nuit, 2011 Oil on canvas | 63 x 47.25 inches