Galerie Dumonteil Shanghai is pleased to present “The Deep”, the solo exhibition of Charles Hascoët, marking this emerging French artist's debut in China. Featuring his most recent works, the exhibition pieces together the artist's journey of self-healing in the face of the sudden and the unexpected. In “The Deep”, a personal and universal setting, the artist seeks a sense of rootedness in the flow while sharing his most intimate stories through these highly intuitive and metaphorical paintings.
The Deep, a Poetic Dwelling
The sea is everything. It covers seven-tenths of the terrestrial globe. …… It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence.
Oceans and seas have always played a significant role in arts and literature. Some seek its excitement and mystery, whereas Hascoët looks for a reclusive haven where there is only silence and peace — “While there is a storm at the surface, turmoil and trouble, there is always quietness deep below.” Coping with the loss of his father due to cancer and the separation with his wife because of the pandemic, the artist has faced more overwhelming and difficult situations than he ever wanted. This series of paintings compile a vast self-portrait that reveals who he is and what troubles him during those months.
In the works featuring a diver who always took off his helmet, it seems that he wasn’t really concerned with the importance of breathing underwater, and that he felt at home at the bottom of the ocean. Also curiously, the diver has chosen octopus and decapods, some less-attractive, if not repulsive sea animals as his companies, along with some mundane objects — lighting candles, tennis balls, etc. One can only conjecture how these images indicate the artist’s struggle with his responsibilities and the passing of time. Still, there’s also detectable brightness, mobility and warmth carried by these bewildering combinations.
This underwater voyage carrying a sense of loss somehow coincides with Heidegger’s notion of “dwelling” — homelessness is the sole summons that calls mortals into their dwelling, …… to bring dwelling to the fullness of its essence.” It raises these profound philosophical questions about the notion of belonging and how we relate to it.
The Deep, a Feast of Color and Form
In “The Deep”, the subject also provides a premise that justifies the artist’s search on colors and form, particularly the morphology of sea animals and plants.
Consistent with the artist’s preference for bright and fluorescent colors, the intensive use of purple and pink has been ongoing for some time in the studio. Fascinated by these almost unnatural and yet pleasing colors, especially purple — the last color in the spectrum visible to the human eye, Hascoët has extensively explored the variations of its textures and tones in this series of works. Notably, this violet — a color both numb and warm — also corresponds to the artist’s complex emotional experience during the gloomy days.
In the paintings portraying the octopuses, the mimicry and camouflage ability of this magical creature is matched by the rhythmic colors of the picture, while the eye-catching tennis balls complete a playful "duet". Famous for their rounded bodies, bulging eyes, and eight long arms, octopuses are often considered “monsters of the deep”. In Hascoët’s works, however, their eyes are full of stories and filled with a sense of caring and benevolence, and even a hint of warmth through their supposedly cold blue veins.
“The Deep” is a diary in which the artist recollects what has been given to him and what he has lost. Holding the octopus in hand and knowing that it might escape at any moment, the diver has attempted to keep something that he cannot truly hold onto, but like the tennis ball that is bound to float up to the surface, eventually our diver shall set off on a new journey that bears the memory of this one.