Remember when we were children, how we used to spend hours drawing and coloring sheets of paper? From animals to family members to flowers, we let our imaginations guide our hands in sketching whatever came to mind.
“Houses” were reduced to squares, topped by a triangle to represent the roof. “Flowers” were made of a central circle with overlapping circles for petals, straight lines for stems and squares for pots.
French artist Didier L’Honorey has adopted this sort of art naïf for the works in his “Surveiller l’Ombre du Hasard” (Keep an Eye on the Shadow of Chance), an exhibition of 23 acrylics on printed fabrics, nowadays up at Ashrafieh’s Alice Mogabgab Gallery.
Meandering through the gallery’s generous space, viewers are led on a journey through the basic techniques of drawing.
In his 105.5x89 cm work “Chaque Fleur Trouve Pot a sa Queue” (Each Flower finds a Pot to its Stem), onlookers are faced with a textile printed in a pattern of blue, green and black flowers – which it turns out the artist has himself sketched.
L’Honorey’s secondary addition to the medium is comprised of nine painted flowers -–six red, one yellow and two black. The flowers and their stems appear to hover above nine pots, roughly rendered in white. L’Honorey appears to be inviting his viewers to follow the instructions of the work’s title.
Some people may characterize L’Honorey’s works as childish indulgences. Yet it is their simplicity that makes the works so attractive. “It is a poetic simplicity,” opined gallerist Alice Mogabgab. “The artist juxtaposes a theme onto another.”
Indeed, though the themes are reiterative (if the technique and style are not), the saturation isn’t aggressive to the eye.
In some other works, the artist toys with perspective.
In his 96.5 x 78 cm “Composition Decomposee, Simple Six Deux fois Trois” (Decomposed Composition, Simple Six Two times Three), L’Honorey foregrounds three low pots, from which stems delicately project. In the background, three more tall pots are put populated with flowers.
The pots are so lightly painted that the red, brown and blue flowers on the printed fabric are clearly visible, creating the impression that the vessels are fading and that the flowers are projecting from the more stylised background. The effect is accentuated by the bright oranges and yellows L’Honorey uses to render the petals, giving them an aspect of three-dimensionality.
L’Honorey’s thrill in playing with perspective is suggested again in “Coucou” (Pickaboo, 172 x 104.5 cm). Here two floral fabrics are vertically joined – the upper one of brighter shades, the bottom one more subdued.
On the bottom textile, a pale-blue pot is painted on the right while an upside-down flower is rendered on the left. Here, the artist plays “Peekaboo” with onlookers. It appears the upper fabric is hiding something. As for the flower, its transparent white color and texture gives the impression of it being absorbed by the fabric.
The titles of L’Honorey’s works are key. In one of his acrylics, “17 Coups de Rouleaux, 3 Coups de Pinceaux” (17 Roll-On Stripes, 3 Brushstrokes), viewers are invited to count the brushstrokes used by the artist.
And we do so. There are exactly 17 yellow and red roll-on stripes and three black brushstrokes to represent the flowers stems.
The brightness of the three flowers offsets the oppressive regimentation of the printed fabrics.
The red stripes could be seen as bars that prevent the fabric flowers from escaping – though they are ineffectual as obstacles to the colorfully painted blossoms with their curvy stems, they seem to be growing directly from the bottom edge of the work. Though it depicts flowers, this work creates an odd impression of movement.
Didier L’Honorey’s “Surveiller L’Ombre du Hasard” is up at Ashrafieh’s Alice Mogabgab Gallery until March 30. For more information please call 03-210-424.