IN CONVERSATION (STUDIO, BY JOHN FURSE)

May 1, 2014

The studio is well organised and Herve Constant's current concern is with the coming exhibition at North West London's Tricycle Gallery. The work to be shown is carefully stacked against the walls. It is important that the hanging sequence makes good sense and that what he has to say is communicated clearly. Constant is very particular and intent on leaving little to chance. 

 

BRETAGNE The studio is well organised and Herve Constant's current concern is with the coming exhibition at North West London's Tricycle Gallery. The work to be shown is carefully stacked against the walls. It is important that the hanging sequence makes good sense and that what he has to say is communicated clearly. Constant is very particular and intent on leaving little to chance. The Gallery is ideal and exhibition organiser Jeremy Cole appreciates that he is dealing with a sophisticated and very professional man. In the studio the exhibition is compiled with precision - work by work - inch by inch. 

 

Two large paintings will dominate: 'Labyrinth (Gate 1)' and 'Labyrinth (Gate 2)' which is as it should be. Both are made for the exhibition and might be seen as a new departure - work in progress. Both are considered to be finished though their maker is loath to commit himself. In the gallery he will decide. In all but one respect they can be seen identical and clearly they have been conceived as a pair. It is their colour that defines their difference. 'Labyrinth (Gate 1)' is predominantly blue whereas 'Labyrinth (gate 20' is less austere - less cool - with the emphasis on ochre and earthy sienna. Each is edged with black and the pattern - the design - look-a-like. In essence the images are persistently formal - Constant is not concerned with irrationalities and the paint is carefully and orderly applied. Variation in the pure colour is caused by transparent glazing. Oil over acrylic is the method. 

 

The instinct is to unravel the ins-and-outs of the labyrinth - the maze - but there is no way out and clearly it is not the intention merely to puzzle. Interpretation is possible: "The makers of labyrinths have always left a vacuum that can be filled according to personal intuition" and a sense of mystery is inevitable. A labyrinth also "leads inwards towards a hidden sanctuary in which lies the most unfathomable of human dreams and aspirations". Between the two 'Gates' it is intended to hang a smaller work 'Abracadabra' - open Sesame - which is as it should be - work in progress must always demand our full attention. Elsewhere in the studio is the more familiar work that helped to ease Constant away from the earlier preoccupation with the poet Arthur Rimbaud. This too is to be seen at the Tricycle Gallery but clearly 'Labyrinth (Gate 1)' and 'Labyrinth (Gate 2)' are designed to be the focus of attention.

 

John Furse, Plymouth 

 

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