"Under influence" - Alter-Art Gallery - Grenoble - January 2023

Long live la Bote piète !

Jean-Louis Roux - Les Affiches n°5132 - 13 janvier 2023

Having left to have fun making simple splashes of color, Etienne Eymard Duvernay came to invent a whole world...and all its inhabitants. Here is a work that is both intelligent and miraculously candid. To discover carefully at Alter-Art

To speak of "abstract painting" is for many an abuse of language. First, because there is nothing more concrete than paint: colors straight from the tube, linen canvas, wooden frames, etc. But even more, and more subtly, because our desire for abstraction always comes up against our propensity (even unconscious, even reluctantly) to produce images. Moreover, our language, to make us understandable to others, also leads us to this. For example, to describe the productions of informal art, critics will speak of "mental landscapes", "cloudism", etc. In short, Etienne Eymard Duvernay just wanted to make a few pretty spots of color to practice watercolors. It is clear that he did not succeed. Because the stains took shape and made sense. We don't cut it.

Looks like a protozoan

So, "a little" aided by the artist's expertise (notably his very fine use of inks and colored pencils), the water-based paint stains became unlikely critters – improbable but not necessarily monstrous . It looks like a "blob", a tardigrade, a paramecium or some other fabulous protozoan. Moreover, Etienne Eymard Duvernay accentuated the illusion, by slightly shading the underside of the color patch. So our eye and our brain tell us that if there is a shadow, there is a volume; and if there is volume, it is because there is something tangible… Getting caught up in the game, the painter noticed that as long as giving birth to creatures, you might as well imagine a place of life. This is how each large animalcule drawing is paired with a small drawing supposed to represent its ecosystem. The artist thus plays with contrasts: a large creature living in a small biotope; or a small, very dense drawing, in duet with a large drawing giving pride of place to the white of the sheet of paper; etc

Glory to the Edged Paroa !

And to complete the building, Etienne Eymard Duvernay pushed perfection to the point of inventing a name – pseudo scientific, but fully poetic – for each of these chimerical beings: Bote Piète, Terrestrial Médane, Royal Alkénise, Mirtge de l'aube, Guèze from the north, Paroa from the edges… there is Michaux, there is Borges, with this Eymard Duvernay! The latter puts his finger in a fictional gear and, almost as surprised as us, lets himself be completely taken in. We will discover there a perky fantasy, an unexpected freshness of soul, an unbroken curiosity. And a powerful imagination.



Benjamin Bardinet - Le Petit Bulletin n°1205- 18 janvier 2023

Random fluids

Accustomed to explorations in the field of graphic arts, the artist Etienne Eymard Duvernay has recently embarked on experiments with watercolors. Curious about this new medium, he let himself be carried away by the effects specific to it. Vaporous, the colors diffuse and give rise to complex ramifications whose water applied with a brush circumscribes the random shapes. The artist then sketches a light shadow which gives substance to the enigmatic form, which he finally baptizes with an amusing scientific-fantasy name. Associated with each of these watercolors, a small drawing lets imagine the natural environment of these strange organisms, half-vegetable, half-animal – eminently graphic.



Exhibition at La Condamine - Corenc - November 2022

Jean Louis Roux - The Posters - December 1, 2022

Served on a cushion

It serves our brains on a pillow... Étienne Eymard-Duvernay cultivates the enigma, in a work that makes you think, and where the figure borders on the informal.

On the left, three turtles frolic in the depths of the sea. In the center, three deer stop in a clearing. On the right, three monkeys climb the branches of a tree. In the foreground of each of these sketches, a cushion is installed: on this cushion rests a brain. This brain looks like a human brain. The cushion on which the brain is placed is reminiscent of those silk cushions on which, in history museums, the crown jewels are presented. At first glance, we think that everything is clear, since everything is of a confusing realism. But such is the paradox: the more figurative the art, the greater the mystery... What is this brain placed in the middle of nature? Why is he on such a cushion? And why are these brains on their cushion always placed in the same place in the drawing? And why are there three animals in each drawing? And why are the drawings three in number?

Who is the king of whom?

The works of Étienne Eymard-Duvernay are like this: they pose infinitely more questions than they offer answers. Although it is not forbidden to sketch lines of thought. The three drawings are successively titled Turtle Owner, Deer Owner, etc. Note that "owner" is singular, while "turtles" is plural; let's admit that it is unlikely that a turtle is the owner of the other two; and conclude that this singular owner can only be the human brain in front of the drawing. What to deduce? That man, who likes to define himself as a brain, claims to be the owner of nature and the sovereign of the Earth. What the drawing does not say is what happens in the next image: the one we will never see and that we therefore have to imagine. Will the turtles devour this appetizing brain? And won't the deer trample it? And will the monkeys tear it with their claws and teeth? Or will these animals ultimately play the most perfect indifference? Who is master of what? Who is the king of whom?

A headless humanity.

These three drawings alone are already worth the visit. For their monumental scale: each drawing measures 2.40 meters by 1.50 meters. For their virtuoso delicacy: made with only colored pencils (with a few watercolor highlights), they each took three weeks of work. For their unfathomable depth: everything is there, readable, identifiable, and yet we come up against everything. Opposite these three drawings, three other drawings in colored pencils, of much more modest dimensions, represent a woman, a man and a couple, all naked… and without a head. Does this mean that their head is opposite? That their head is this brain resting on a cushion? And that by believing themselves masters of the world, they have lost their minds? The artist does not respond. It's up to us to make our brains work. If we still have one.

Organic and cerebral.

To make our perplexity even greater, Étienne Eymard-Duvernay multiplies the techniques and the invoices. In other works, he practices acrylic paint, or scratch cards and inks. He paints red rocks, red like pieces of flesh; he paints organic, matrix shapes, expanding shapes; he paints torso excrescences, nocturnal swarms, filaments, drips, cerebral matter, convolutions and circumlocutions... Étienne Eymard-Duvernay paints both the figure and the infigurable. But our brain on a cushion, will our animal brothers reduce it to mush?



“The strange bestiary of Étienne Eymard Duvernay”

Caroline Méricour - A workshop, an artist - Beautiful neighborhoods - spring 2022


Entering an artist's studio is a bit like trying to get into your psyche: you discover the matrix of the work in progress, without coming to terms with its mystery. Nestled in a courtyard in downtown Grenoble, between tall Haussmann buildings, that of Étienne Eymard Duvernay, although flooded with sunshine, does not lack that part of shade which also makes the place attractive. "When I arrived this morning, it was four degrees," he clarifies gently.

Bright reds, oranges, turquoise or lemon yellows: on the wall, the colors of the drawing in progress smack in the blinding midday light. The lines intertwined in a ball fill two gigantic unidentifiable mountainous forms. "It's a fresco project for a social landlord. The model plans to soon graft houses onto this landscape. There is still a lot of work. "On the other walls, we find his more personal works, such as his paintings of bleeding rocks, in large format, recently exhibited at the Place à l'Art gallery, in Voiron. "I have a fascination for these relics limestones of Chartreuse and Vercors, which were formed by the deposits of marine micro-organisms over millions of years: they seem inert and yet come from life. I started photographing them twenty-five years ago when I arrived in the region, walking along the banks of the Drac and in the mountain scree during hikes. Then I painted them. I waited a long time before showing them. »

After years of photographing for advertising, publishing or architecture, then experimenting with video and performance for contemporary dance companies, this protean artist, who likes to define himself as an "imager", felt the need to return to the pictorial gesture and the material, which he practiced assiduously in his youth, at the Beaux-Arts in Beauvais.

The art of changing scale

Inspired by the painter Gerhard Richter, who freed himself from all diktats and schools, Étienne experimented with all kinds of mediums, without having to decide between figuration and abstraction, realism and minimalism. The palette is most often limited and the human presence always in hollow. In his Rocher-Roger diptychs, linocuts in red and black (his favorite colors), the face of the man tends towards the mineral, while the heart-shaped rock which accompanies it seems ready to throb. “The borders are not so clear between living and non-living: everything merges into the infinitely small. »

In the era of the Anthropocene, this nature lover invites us to reflect on the feeling of ownership inherited from the philosophers of the Enlightenment, "For whom beings conscious of themselves have rights over those who have none awareness ". In his large naturalistic drawings of deer or monkeys, this superiority of man over nature is symbolized by a brain resting on a silk cushion in the middle of the forest, in the foreground. He still questions land ownership in his engravings of cadastral plots with graphic shapes that turn into fantastic animals. "Art is a way to challenge our certainties and beliefs, to value and imagine forms that are invisible to us. »

Artefacts of the living, his ongoing series, was inspired by the cover of an album by Led Zeppelin, Presence, which he listened to as avidly as a teenager: we see an enigmatic black monolith enthroned in the middle of the family table and in other everyday life situations. This object, which has become a cult, evokes these invisible forces and presences that act on us without our knowledge. Animal, vegetable or mineral, the funny creatures constituting the bestiary of Etienne Eymard Duvernay have the same power of astonishment. “I bought a box of watercolors at the campsite last summer, while on vacation, and I started painting on the beach or sitting in the grass, organic, asymmetrical, uncharted shapes. The drawings are bare, like the naturalistic plates of encyclopedias. Each artefact will be attached to another image which will be totally free and will represent its living space. The format, the subject, everything is in the making…”. This part that humans do not control, the artist's imagination seizes on it. And the workshop will reveal nothing more.



Place à l'Art Gallery - Voiron - 2021

Jean Louis Roux - Posters n°5063 - September 2021

Red are the stones.

For many years Étienne Eymard Duvernay has been painting red stones. Huge blocks of stone that clutter the space of the painting. He now exhibits his pebbles at the Place à l’art gallery. And it is as if he was exposing the human condition.

This red is sumptuous. It is sumptuous as was the sumptuous red of the velvet armchairs and the stage curtain of the Italian-style theaters of the past. It is a majestic red. A red that impresses, as it was undoubtedly impressive to rub shoulders with Her Majesty. As a result, it is a sovereign red. Authoritarian then. How authoritative is the rock that detaches itself from the mountain and rolls down the valley with a thunderous noise, and devastating everything in its path. That red are the rocks painted by Étienne Eymard Duvernay. They have this authority, it is sumptuousness that engenders embarrassment. Étienne Eymard Duvernay paints canvases filled with red rocks and this red is disturbing.

Stumble on the stones.

In truth, they are not all red. Some are beige, bis, bistre, greige gray. They are even covered in white. These sort of form the background of the painting, the carpet on which sit the few red rocks that focus our attention. But how do you look away? The Étienne Eymard Duvernay paintings are filled with heaps of stones, they are only scree of rocks - a pure mineral. They are accumulations of blocks occupying the entire space of the painting: without a ridge line, without a horizon, without a sky therefore. These all-over paintings are so many stops. And there is this stifling red without inflection, this red of implacable density. Only the beige-grey rocks provide a tiny breath, because unlike their red counterparts, they offer, to whoever wants to approach their eyes, the almost dancing lightness of their workmanship: these undulating brush lines, serpentines, which suffice to outline the materiality of these stones.

The opacity of the stones.

Étienne Eymard Duvernay says that these pebbles are "deposits of life". They have indeed the opacity of any parenthetical existence (however bleak and peaceful they may appear), its infrangibility, its impenetrable thickness. Its heaviness too, as these colored pencil drawings seem to say, which represent a character who looks helplessly at the stones tumbling down on him. "I feel no need to understand life, for it is incomprehensible". Add the painter again. And that may well be what disturbs us, in these red pebbles. They are like our destiny: we don't understand it and we have to deal with it.

Jean Louis Roux - Posters n°5063 - September 2021




Chazelles exhibition in Lyon. 2019

Paul Ripoche - Exhibition curator

Etienne Eymard Duvernay defines himself as an imager. Like a craftsman, would he be a maker? Because indeed, he undeniably makes images: painted images, images drawn, engraved, scratched, filmed… images photographed, mounted, glued, associated… Many are the tools of the craftsman at the service of the same hand.

And we, what do we do with his images? We look at them, we project ourselves into them, we see blocks, animals, rock, light… we see an organic, apocalyptic surrealism, a fantastic imagination, mysterious phenomena. Sometimes we even see Gustave Doré, this giant of illustration who stripped and engraved thousands of cubic meters of wood to accompany the greatest texts. We see there what the imager shows us and we see what we are. So, imager or artist? Watcher or spectator? One or the other or both? It doesn't matter if the meeting takes place.