Edwige Fouvry

Although clearly embedded in a visual awareness of the physical world, Edwige Fouvry’s paintings are never made directly from life. Instead, they are complex syntheses wrought by her imagination. By knitting together childhood recollections, photographs old and new, the moving world seen from the windows of trains, stills harvested from the television set and other media, Fouvry pursues an “emotional truth” in which the recorded, the remembered, and the imagined must each play a role.

The evolution of Fouvry’s style since her days at Belgium’s prestigious La Cambre school has been, in a very important sense, a process of simplification. While she has added extensively to her repertoire over the years, she has at the same time gradually stripped from her work any affect that emphasizes concept over the viewer’s personal encounter with the work. Even the complexity of external narrative has been plucked away, leaving in its place the self-sufficiency, the immediacy, and the generous elasticity of poetry. Her art is a door through which she invites us to visit a deeply personal, deeply subjective, space, to have an experience that is far more sensual than notional, far more emotional than theoretical.

Even in her portraits, Fouvry clearly prioritizes personal vision over representation. Inspired by the sculptural solidity and brushwork of Lucien Freud (1922–2011), she replaces his insistence on sure and specific physicality with an embrace of the uncertain, and the search for an intuitive connection. More fundamentally, Fouvry’s portraits are not begun with any specific person in mind, rejecting the most basic assumptions of conventional portrait painting.

Similar forces of transformation are at work in Fouvry’s landscapes. Fouvry has no need for a fictional representative, with all the narrative implications such a figure entails. In Fouvry’s landscapes, the viewer is the wanderer, and the painting the view. As in the portraits, the scene is a composite, in no way visually specific to the place of the title.

The alchemical and improvisational nature of Fouvry’s work surely holds the secret to its almost stately tenderness: it never mounts an unquestioned, unilateral view. In place of the singular, Fouvry offers a plurality, a weaving together of diverse moments across places and times that must, by its nature, be sympathetic to difference. This sympathy is reflected in the artist’s profound reluctance to leave any line unbroken or lay any area of color uninterrupted: those are the types of absolutes against which Fouvry’s embrace of memory acts as guardian, a counterbalance to the cold certitude of the eye. As the artist notes, “When you try to recall a place or a person, you form an image, but you also experience an emotion: the visual becomes the emotional.”

Edwige Fouvry was born in Nantes, France, in 1970, and currently lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. She received her Masters degree from École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels de la Cambre in Brussels in1996. She has exhibited widely across Europe and North America.

Tadzio Koelb