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François Bouillon
  • Artist (1944)

The self-taught sculptor, installation artist and draughtsman François Bouillon, who was born in 1944 in Limoges, came to notice in the early 1970s through an unusual art praxis.  When talking about his works, the artist refers to “instruments”, thereby suggesting that his work complies with both a material and a mental organization.  Reckoning that painting was unsatisfactory (he abandoned it once and for all in the early 1970s), Bouillon creates incongruous objects which are usually the outcome of associations of often natural materials (earth, stone, fire) and organic materials, either heavy or lighter.  If the artist is interested in ethnology and archaeology, this is to bring to the fore what our modernity turns its back on, a form of rituality which finds part of its meaning in the slow preparatory processes of the works.  As a collector of African and Oceanian art, Bouillon is interested in the psychic “function” of the objects which the spectator will have access to, by abandoning his usual reference.  These often fragile “associations” actually explore a symbolic and poetic space created on the one hand by the use of rudimentary materials and, on the other hand, by the arbitrary character of these assemblages, which result more from a spontaneous impulse than from any intellectual approach.  The trips he has made to Mexico and Algeria nurture an activity involving performance and photography.  In addition, Bouillon’s works fashion networks of meanings through shifts of sense, produced by word play like Echo-Ecco, 1984.  With Se Ipsum Pinxit:  Granada Martillande su sombre, a work consisting of a sheet of lead and nine drawings, the central oval was obtained by hammering, with light blows, the projected shadow of the sculptor’s face on a wall in Spain, a form of ritual to which the artist gives himself over.   The watercoloured graphite drawings, for their part, result from papers being rubbed over the lead.  Bouillon, whose works are regularly shown in Europe, also teaches at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts in Paris.

Nadine Labedade