Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Alexandra Duprez of Douarnenez

I met Alexandra Duprez in Douarnenez in July of 2012.  Toby and I stopped in our tracks at the window of the small gallery, Les Métamorphoses, that she shares with her partner, Jean-Pierre Le Bars, on one of the main streets in Douarnenez.

Homme Ombre Cheval 2011

I was immediately drawn to the indigo blues of patterned dresses, horses, repeated eyes and hands, and wonderful antlers that sprouted from figures.  Flowing heads of hair that become beams of light, empty dresses levitating and sprouting antlers, hand-drawn patterns and webs of color and line.

 Some of my favorite artists came to mind: Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Annette Messager, Charlotte Salomon, Nancy Spero. A few days later, we saw her again at a small former school house on the edge of the sea in Pors-Poulhan, where she had installed paintings as part of  "L’Art à la Pointe" contemporary art circuit. A few of my photos below are from that show.

Alexandra Duprez has lived in Douarnenez most of her life: she was born there and lives there with her family. What got her painting was not the long history of art in Brittany (her hometown played a large role in the nineteenth century), rather it was a long stay in Australia at the age of 17. Inspired by Aboriginal painting, she returned to France and studied painting at the Fine Arts Academy in Quimper.

Ever since we met in 2012, we have been in touch-- first by email, then she extended a most generous offer for me to visit her in June (2013).  I spent three nights with Alexandra, Jean-Pierre and their three wonderful kids.  How strange to find a friend across the Atlantic who has some of the same obsessions (1960s Danish furniture, Moroccan food, macrame lamps, old crocheted blankets, vintage clothing, indigo).

Cavalier, 2012

Here is her artist's statement (translated with help from Caren Colley-Trowbridge):  
The human figure is central to my work: the figure interacting with elements of various kinds: animal, vegetable...and so on.

These comparisons and contrasts, these juxtapositions and their erasures stage a limited number of fragments of images that I revisit in each painting that I complete, year after year.
Twins, hair, huts, right and left hands, shadows, waves…
Over the course of the past fifteen years, it has occurred to me that I have taken into account many things buried, perhaps forgotten, from the history of images and, undoubtedly, from my own past as well.
At the Fort de Sainte Marine in Combrit, Duprez and Le Bars are exhibiting together in the summer of 2013.

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