ERICA DAVIES DIRECTOR, FREUD MUSEUM, LONDON
Herve Constant's paintings repeatedly reveal his absorbtion with the representation of the journey of the soul .This compelling search reflects Constant ' s own odyssey which has transported his origins and culture.
Born in Casablanca of a Moroccan mother and a French father, Herve suffered a dislocated childhood which stranded him and his brother in an orphanage in France for some part of their young lives. In his teens he decided that to study drama and become an actor would provide a safe outlet for buried emotion, and a means of expressing the losses of the past. An opportunity to lose self in a succession of assumed selves. Then.after success at drama school and the theatre, it became apparent to him that painting was the most profound and enduring consolation for the soul. From the beginning one of the strongest influences on Constant's painting has been the life and work of the symbolist poet,Arthur Rimbaud.The poet's lush concoction of colour and symbol found a powerful response in the artist, resulting in a body of work which was exhibited at the Musee Rimbaud at Charleville/Mezieres. The Imagery of the Drunken boat resonated strongly for Herve with it's sharp,brittle allusions to the bright beginnings which dwindle to encompass the disillusions of life. Herve's sharply delineated boat drifts aimlessly in the water of a sombre river overwhelmed by a flaming dark red sky. Herve's use of colour and form is precise and concise, not given to florid gestures.At times the colour is bold and powerfully expressive such as the vibrant red of The Anchor and the Wheel from the Rimbaud series.Many of the recent works have incorpora- ted a cooler palette with subtle tones of blues and ochres .He is fascinated too with the texture of paint and this is best expressed in a set of grisaille paintings shown at the Ben Uri Museum .Lately he has been experimenting with the technique of encaustic,mixing pigment with wax, and he is engrossed with the pleasure of seeing the colour vary in intensity as the wax dries. A fortunate commission from the Azazel Institute, France brought Constant together with the major arcana of the tarot.the ancient and richly symbolic system of divination. The twenty two cards can be viewed in different ways and many angles, but fundamentally represent the spiritual journey of the individual through a fusion of symbols and colours.