YVES CLERC (1947-)
“An experience, a world, a silence, which spans the divide between dream and reality, nature and illusion, beauty and time,” filmmaker and screenwriter Tim Willocks explains. In Yves Clerc’s work, there’s always a close up of a subject. Women, dresses, lavish and colourful fabrics, detailed ornaments, distinctive hats, use of petals and natural components, as well as a passion for various motifs from art history, all feed the artist’s imagery.
Paintings are just as tactile as they are visual. Materiality is at the core of the artist’s pictorial development, as he created a particular painting technique over a span of 10 years. The paint is meticulously applied to the surface by superposing and rubbing about 25 layers – a method which allows the under layers to show through and gives the painting its beautiful hues and nuances. The paint piled up defines lines, embossment and a texture, which is in turn highlighted by lights and shadows and emphasise the depth and quality of the hues.
The creative process is key to his representations. While the subject is of importance, the artist prefers to focus on how it is represented, for he believes that the role of painting is no more about the representation of reality and that the narrative emanates from the approach with which one subject is represented. Clerc starts by collecting and (re)composing images from fashion magazines and then work on his compositions and staging, through sketches, drawings, and models of the mannequins which shows the drapes and physical nature of the subjects. The subjects, distorted, become distinct from any visual reality and gain their own pictorial identity with bodies of unique proportions, posture and shapes. Models are then photographed to give 2D renderings of the subject, and the composition emerges from the distortions of successive reproductions.
All works are numbered in an almost scientific manner. With a curriculum in both arts and chemical studies before devoting his time solely to painting. Accordingly, this multi-disciplinary career impacts on his artistic development. His painting technique, which only him can master, points out to a methodic, scientific-like approach (2-3 months, always working on his own) and his use of stencils on the frames to number each painting like research samples also points out to the rigour with which he develops his oeuvre.
Yves Clerc is collected around the world by high fashion couturiers and sold at auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Leading scenographer Leïla Menchari used several of his works as central pieces to the shopping windows of the luxury brand Hermes.
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