Philippe Favier

Swash Zone

June 01 - July 13, 2023

Philippe Favier

Swash Zone

June 01 - July 13, 2023


It is important to note right from the start that both of the series presented by Philippe Favier this spring at the Ceysson & Bénétière gallery are innovative. They date from 2021 to today and will most likely be a reaction to the last major exhibitions of the artist, be it ALL OVER at the Museum of Valence where Thierry Raspail masterfully staged more than 1,200 works in the 34 rooms of the museum, or the exhibition SOLO held at the gallery in Luxembourg where Bernard Ceysson skilfully orchestrated some of the many seasons the artist has treated us to over the past four decades. 

His insatiable need for renewal that divides his work into dozens of series and his substantial palette of experimental techniques are without a doubt responsible for the recurring impressions of temporary retrospectives featuring works that can be opened. 

Let’s hope, however, that the first to be ‘positively disappointed’ was the artist himself, and that the works he presents us today attempt to escape such predispositions, always unfavourable to surprise or the imagination. 

So, Favier, at the foot of his Vercors or on the top of his hills near Nice, concocts new seasons to offer impassive eternity, sheltered from suspect fashions and opportunism, in a painful introspection that a good education has made smile. 

With CLAPIERS and SWASH ZONE, we are in a time when the hand of the artist, tired of virtuosic or grandiloquent escapades, grants itself a perilous holiday. Indeed, it is in those moments that the Elastoplast rolls with the flow, and while the virtuosity remains on board, his not-as-grand range is keeping scores. Without that remarkable skill, the hammers, cutters, scalpels and other punches would have soon mess it up.

If it is no longer the tool that poses the threat, then it is the material. In SWASH ZONE, that threat is the action of the paint. Favier, so precise, so meticulous, close to his subject like a presbyopic scribe, is now standing, Pollock with Volcanique* on his breath, throwing paint around with a vengeance.

He has always found the brush to be too soft, preferring the point or the nib; whatever lacerates will do the trick. Here we are far removed from this supposed softness, strangely happy to be spared it. We would be, it seems, in a painting that prolongs the gesture, but the gesture is tenuous, ontologically contained, and in the end, it is no match, only the paint knows what will come of it.

As for the titles, with the exception of ALL OVER chosen by the museum, they are generally in French or Esperanto; for once, though, English was needed – like those unforgettable songs which a translation would have made sound silly – swash zone is a maritime term referring to the area of a beach where water washes over after a wave breaks, leaving a line of sea foam that changes when the next wave comes.

In French, one should say « zone de lèche »… it’s up to you!

* The Gamay wine La Volcanique, Verdier-Logel


Artist : Philippe Favier

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