Opening Reception: Saturday, Nov. 11th, 2017, 17:00-20:00
Exhibition Dates: Nov. 12th - Dec. 17th, 2017
Quentin Derouet has adopted the red rose as a pictorial tool, a creative guide. Through hybridization he has created his own rose with the distinctive quality of generating the most beautiful trace once it is pressed onto the surface of the canvas. The promising result gave him confidence to develop further his technique in pursuit of his artistic explorations.
Liquid, macerated, burnt, fresh or mixed, this particular flower offers the artist the ultimate pigment. Once crushed on the canvas, the red rose produces a deep purple trace.
The rose color with its strong symbolism, whether religious, erotic or even grief, imposed itself onto the artist’s world. Quentin often says that he did not choose it; it was simply given to him. This color purple, bright or dull, translucent or textured is pressed with force but delicately laid or poured on the -bare canvas. The paintings created with this marginal but well thought-out process are not without reminding us of cave paintings and even look back to the luminous and abstract landscapes of Claude Monet that always had a strong attraction for the artist. Ancestral flower, the rose is both natural and artificial, antique and romantic, a universal symbol of love with an undeniable religious connotation. The flower can also be a feature of kitsch, definitely a sign of passion that talks to all with moving and disarming recognition.
The red flower is a mysterious ‘queen’ with its precious beauty that arouses dreams or jealousy and bewitches mankind from the marble Venus to the Pompeii frescoes. Quentin Derouet divides his work between his Parisian studio, a grey city den, and his bright, airy studio by the sea in Nice, and at other times, along a picturesque river in the Aveyron area. Under the rain or facing the sea, the artist always rejoices in his surroundings. The roses burnt in an almost mystic ritual, come to caress the canvas or the paper that is close to the stems and thorns in combustion.
The smoke and the water combined with the fluid, flower pigment create a palimpsest of ‘alchemic layers’ applied successively on the canvas. Quentin’s paintings are composed of different series, from the mellowest ones to the most minimalist. From the “The Tears of Eros” with its striking dripping guided by the artist’s hand as he strokes the canvas with the purple sap to the white canvas laid out with a more formal or textural use of the rose.
Some works reveal new combinations in which the pure roses are melted with burnt or macerated ones in acrylic and applied with rose pigments on burnt on purposefully damaged paper already covered with dry petals. Sometimes the artist is tempted to salvage leftover and forgotten pieces of canvas to rearrange them in a way that recalls the assemblage technique of Robert Rauschenberg.
In remodeling paintings with bits of canvas that show several stages of his work, Quentin recreates a synergy between the different series. The line, monochrome, radical and pure from the crushed rose is a fundamental in Quentin’s work like Franck Stella and his strict freehand method. Quentin marks the canvas with fresh rose and leaves a trace that is rigorous and raw. In search of the absolute, the artist wraps his paintings in a context of mystery. For each of his works, the texture leads the form, the drawing and the lines. The artist lets himself be guided while pressing the flower and pouring the pressed out sap. Sometimes, it is the rose that takes the lead with an undeniable force that surpasses the artist’s own personality.
In a century or two, Quentin’s rose traces will turn black. Through the oxidation, the natural pigment will tone down and fade like blood, from red to purple then black. The organic life of the traces will determine the time frame and impermanence of each painting. Could the intensity of the rose allow the painting to go beyond its status of object and become a contemporary icon? Could the rose instill magic? For this rose, Quentin Derouet invited by ArtCN, spent the autumn season in Yiliang (Yunnan Province) near Kunming, city of “eternal spring”. He set up his temporary studio in a vast greenhouse, which belongs to the largest rose grower in Asia. In a translucent plastic and metal architecture, cathedral of modern times stretching as far as the eye can see, hundreds of thousands of roses open every day. The artist lived here among the farmers, in this valley surrounded by mountains, a sinuous river, damp paddy fields bordered by blossoming bougainvillea.
Quentin Derouet personifies the romantic artist in an old fashion way. Inspired by the elegy of Arthur Rimbaud, the pure love chanted by Ronsard or the putridness exuded in Baudelaire writings, the art of Quentin flirts with death, taking the risk of recalling Thanatos with the inevitable links to Eros. Both conceptions are directly associated to the ambiguous figure of Rrose Sélavy, a fictional feminine version of Marcel Duchamp. Although quite rooted in his own tradition, Quentin Derouet still opened up to Yunnan, with its wild beauty, its modern and old fashion towns, its gentle and active population. This new territory where “contradiction is the light of poetry” (Federico Garcia Lorca) was both a fertile and fruitful terrain at the same time. Absorbed by immeasurable dualities, Quentin found in the rose a deep meaning, the coming together of the natural and the artificial as a form of hybridization. Love and death, from an erotic feeling to a sense of purity, from a perfect line to a stain mark.
Quentin was inspired by and aspired to understanding the contradictions of China. Eventually the purple and subtle trace of rose has come to overwhelm its own essence. Quentin conveyed the trace without language and within the confines of another world. Fervent adept of Dadaist wisdom, his work tends to bring awareness through a minimalist and liberating impulse. The rose, emblematic blossom, surpasses itself as simply a flower. Everything and nothing all at once, the evocative trace captures the viewer and plunges him in the heart of his own existentialist quest. And maybe this rose stands here to unveil the thin frontier between life and art.
Pauline Pavec (Art Historian)
Our mind is always distracted by our surroundings and we find ourselves often longing for a hidden spot in the mountains at the end of a winding path. Once there we wish to find our inner peace, to become a bystander of this ever changing world, at the same time we look for a way to free ourselves from the countless obligations and duties tying us up on our daily lives.
In her work, Wan Qiong has put her soul into a meticulous and sensitive process. Her ceramic sculptures are not only the endeavor of her installation but also become a vessel for her emotions. The visual impact created by the lights and shadows cast over the shaped bamboo reflect her inner feelings, poised but full of tensions. The world seems to be borderless, however there are invisible connections between everything. These ceramic bamboo objects stand there quietly, with their indomitable spirits, natural and reachable.
Wan Qiong created this series of “bamboos” based on the visual illusions and concepts perceived in her surroundings. Different from her earlier series, when looking closely to these nine tall bamboo works, we notice the delicate glazed details randomly enveloping the surface of each piece like a lace. The characteristics of a classic bamboo has been transformed with a modern style freehand technique into a new aesthetics with the unpredictable changes of the glaze. Maybe there is no more appropriate description than the Chinese saying “Flowers are more than flowers, fog is not just fog”. The size of each ceramic work was restricted by the size of the kiln.
However Wan Qiong was able to get around this difficulty as she decided to shape her work into different segments, breaking the limitation of the height since each molded part is inter-dependant (inter-changeable??). The result is a series of white ceramic “columns” which seem to have sprouted randomly from the ground, offering an eerie sight under dim lights, taking the viewer into a fantasy world and the start of an inner journey. The craftsmanship can be easily seen in her ceramic work, elegant, simple yet ingenious. The silk hanging from the floor to the beam is an extension of her dreams. In the designated exhibition space, we follow the context of the artist, trying to figure out the links between groups and individual parts. This installation is also an exploration of multi-dimension art outside the canvas; the glazed details on the ceramic giving the work a distinctive personality and density reflecting the artist’s emotions.
Charlie Wang (Independent Art Journalist)