Il y eu un murmure.
The paintings and drawings in this exhibition both continue and expand upon the visual and conceptual explorations that Fouvry has engaged in recent years. Working in an abstract style, she deftly combines line, gesture, texture, and color to create compositions that glint and fracture, vibrate and coalesce, with an almost mystical energy. Il y eu un murmure translates to “There was a whisper”—a multivalent title that underscores how the works operate through suggestion, hinting at and alluding to landscapes and people. These visual “whispers” unlock connections to other sensual experiences, including those of sound, scent, and texture, as well as to emotions.
Fouvry’s art is inspired by her memories, the events she has lived, the people she had met, and the places she has visited. These experiences and encounters form the framework for her compositions, which are undone and exposed to allow for a range of interpretations. The artist’s provocations assume a different tone with each work, but they always harbor a sense of mystery and possibility. Lift this branch and discover a new path, pass through that thicket and find what you lost, peer into this person’s eyes and see yourself. Each clue affects viewers differently, in ways that are partly contingent on their individual life stories. When we pay attention to these clues—which are sometimes stealth, sudden, even initially frightening in their unfamiliarity—we are able to not only build a work’s narrative but also discern our own.
Often water-logged and overrun with flora and fauna, Fouvry’s landscapes are rich, psychological terrains. L’arbre jaune (2019), or “The yellow tree,” depicts what might be either a quiet pond or a swiftly moving stream: the artist has so skillfully mixed the calm with the riotous that it is impossible to know for certain. Energetic, brightly colored lines zig and zag through serene washes of blues and purples, which are intersected by drips of paint that flow freely before slowing to a stop. Along the rear bank, parallel to the picture plane, is an emerald woodland that has been punctuated at right by the suggestion of a yellow tree. A trace of that same yellow is mirrored in the waters below, doubling what could be a sign of hope or a harbinger of autumn, itself a period of both maturation and decline. In a Symbolist reading—the nineteenth-century French movement led by Odilon Redon and Gustave Moreau—the tree is both and neither, everything and nothing, depending on the viewer.
While several of the landscapes are dense and heavily layered like L’arbre jaune, a number are more open and utilize the bare canvas to a greater degree. In these works, Fouvry incorporates the white of the support to create moments of pause as the eye moves across the composition, propelled by a vital tension. The resulting aesthetic is echoed in her drawings of people, which rely heavily on line rather than unbroken fields of color. Much like the landscapes, her portraits—both drawings and paintings—draw on elements of Symbolism and romanticism and are rendered to maximize their emotive potential. Her subjects often emerge out of their surroundings as if part of a greater whole and are frequently nude, reflecting Fouvry’s interest in vulnerability and emotional openness. The works beguile and inspire, acting as springboards for reflection and entreating us to look closely for those small but overlooked moments of beauty that are all around us.
Edwige Fouvry was born in Nantes, France, in 1970, and lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. She received her master’s degree from the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels de la Cambre, Brussels, in 1996. Fouvry has exhibited widely across Europe and North America and participated in the 2011 group exhibition HEADS, curated by Peter Selz, at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery. Her work has been reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle, Art Ltd., and Artension. This will be her fifth solo exhibition at the gallery.