APR 23rd - JUN 18th, 2022
Online exhibition of Hervé Priou for the PB Project : Bientôt
With the distance induced by the word “soon” – because soon is never now – Hervé Priou’s paintings explore the strangeness of the subject facing the world, like the relationship between things, so close, immediate, and yet forever misunderstood.
Entitling his works with neologisms, tinting his paintings with irony, a humor close to tragedy and an iconography that is always reinvented, Hervé Priou composes his paintings with play and poetry. Poetry that stems from mischief, from the pleasure of playing with signs and with matter. Pleasure of associations of ideas with multiple readings, and pleasure of a pictorial material whose brushstrokes attest both to a contained gesture and to moments when the hand seems to loosen up. There are different themes, and if they are in direct filiation with the classics of oil painting, it is indeed an irreverent filiation in question.
His still lifes, a classic theme, show fruits and vegetables in anthropomorphic poses; far from the memento mori, these still lifes seem to tell us “forever alive”.
The number of portraits and scenes is as much as paintings of humans in spaces of heightened artificiality; it is one of the possible answers to the existential question of the place of the human on earth which crosses all the history of art. Here, the figures are not anchored in the landscape, they are in a space of pure painting, of which only a few lines, or even a cast shadow, seem there to produce depth and make the subjects breathe in colored flat areas.
The landscapes, with names evoking departmental roads, are themselves placed at a distance from the viewer: the watching subject is certainly “in” the landscape, but it is only there from the road, therefore slightly outside (here we find resonances with the name of the exhibition “Bientôt”).
Nudity, also very present in the paintings of Hervé Priou, is a very specific nudity, far from canonical and erotic demonstrations, the naked bodies, exclusively male for this exhibition, evoke here the vulnerability of the subject facing the outside: what is beyond his skin. Here, nude is to be taken in every sense of the word.
This nudity of the bodies, coupled with the sobriety of the spaces, brings a lot of space into the paintings. Full of air, or aerial, they are above ground like the humans represented there.
Graduated from the ENSAV de la Cambre in Brussels where he studied the fields of volume and installation, the artist continued his training at the Beaux-Arts in Paris, in the studio of Jean-Michel Alberola in which he devoted himself totally to the practice of oil painting. This first passage in Belgium, far from being anecdotal, allows him to deepen the question of the support of the painting, a question often passed under discretion and whose importance is not less crucial. Here the frames are replaced by light panels of poplar wood on which are stretched canvases with a very fine weft. So many plastic elements that reinforce the sensation of floating produced in these paintings. The hanging goes in this direction: the panels are not fixed directly to the wall, they are noticeably unhooked from it, as if in suspension, in time and space.
Born in France in 1990, Hervé Priou graduated from the ENSAV of La Cambre in Brussels where he studied the links between art and urban space. After two years of itinerancy, Hervé Priou joined Jean-Michel Alberola’s studio at the Beaux Arts in Paris to concentrate on his practice of oil painting. Graduated in 2018, he lives and works between Haute-Corrèze and Paris.