"10 DAYS WITH..." - Paris . 22.04.2017 / 06.05.2017
. Galerie Isabelle Gounod
From his reading of Homer’s Iliade and the Odyssey, Martin Ferniot remembers this question about the fate of Man: what is a good life for mortals? Probably and precisely to live less, to love less and to stop a little more. Should the whole of his drawings, gathered for his first personal exhibition at the Isabelle Gounod gallery, be comprehended as a personal oneiric journey for which each piece would represent a station, a necessary pause as a way of antidote for the sin of Hubris threatening us?
Guided by simple intentions and relieved of any form of violence, the artist has here taken his inspiration in the vast corpus of images available in open source on the New York Library’s website, which he seizes to control in order to compose scenes boiled down to the essential which doesn’t prevent art history, literature or cinema from influencing it. Anonymous photographs and sport competition scenes then take the appearance of biblical scenes, epic and symbolic: a mother carrying a child consoles and meditates, a homeric crew defies torrents with oars, a man lying down stretched out between death and dream, like a strange sleeper of the Vale.
Martin Ferniot’s technique mixes pencil with watercolour, which reinforces the solemnity of those images without depth and precipitated on top of the paper. The vertical hatchings of his drawings are in fact called back by the gradients created by watercolour. Applied on the vertical and by successive layers, it creates striking opalescence effects which, subject to gravity, comes and surrounds the characters.
A battle seems to be engaged between background and subjects, literally « liquified » by their own environment and for which the evanescent grey presence has sometimes left its place to simple ghost-like breaches to only give sign of their presence in counter-relief. Here, time is suspended, space is fleeing from all corners and the artist plays off an indistinction that touches not the universal but the very common. Childhood memories forever haunted by the maternal presence and the wish to become a man amongst the others.
The « Premiers » series (sculptures, ceramics and wood) comes to pursue this reflection on time and its marks. The mark is meant to represent the validity of a moment or an agreement, here, the common use of stamps becomes latent. Figures are in fact engraved in the wood and are visible without having to ink them. The object then inactive, shows only by its presence the result of a movement refused by the artist. Everything indicates the disappearance to come: the one of the gesture, the sign, the object itself which the use condemns to wear and which time inexorably erodes. Just like the image of these washed-out forests, which the wood from « Premiers » could have raised from, and which we find recurrently in Martin Ferniot’s drawings. Conscious of a world breaking down, these images come as an epiphany of resistance. And the question remains: "Upon what can we still fix a date?"
Thibault Bissirier, april 2017.