– Voies de têtes
Opening: Thursday 16 May, 2019. 5 – 9 pm
Exhibition: 16.05 – 30.06.2019
Pourbusstraat 3-5 - 2000 Antwerp
KETELEER Gallery is very pleased to announce Voies de Têtes, the first solo exhibition of Fabien Mérelle. Amongst a selection of drawings, two new sculptures will be shown, Le Tronconée in bronze and Merle, Mérelle, Faucon et Tourterelle in wood, which were made especially for the occasion. Fabien Mérelle (°1981, Fontenay-aux-Roses, France) graduated from the Beaux-Arts academy in Paris in 2006 and was the first foreign exchange student ever to be allowed to the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, China in 2005. Throughout his western education, Mérelle was encouraged to paint instead of draw, but in China he became submerged in an altogether different atmosphere where everyone appreciates drawing and considers it a noble art. This is where he discovered China’s rich heritage and perfected the use of various ink techniques. Averse to everything, he continued to defend his miniature drawings, not bigger than A4-sized paper sheets. His determination wins him the title of ‘the decadence of drawing’, which he takes as a great compliment. When Mérelle returned from China, he was granted another residence at the highly esteemed Casa Vélasquez, Madrid in 2009 and in 2010 he won the highest prize in the Canson Art School Awards where he was praised for his courage and willpower in daring to work as an independent draughtsman in defiance of all fashion trends.
Fabien Mérelle is mostly known for his elegant and delicate line-drawings in black ink and watercolour. His detailed and precise works exude a humble character, but it’s by examining up close that the complexities of his imagination are revealed in a rich and personal story. The quietness of his style leaves allows us to be amazed by the depth of his subject matters. His demure, almost classical style and his at times confronting, psychological, ironic, disturbing and equally sensitive depictions leave us bewildered and intrigued at the same time. Mérelle draws from his subconsciousness, dreams and uninhibited imagination to create layered, mysterious scenes based on actual events from his life as a man, a husband and a father. Drawing takes Fabien Mérelle back to his instincts. Animals and the natural elements are strongly represented in his work; they gnaw at him, they crush him, and he hybridises —man is an animal and, therefore, just one type of prey among many others. His inner child talks with the animals, the trees and the stones, because that’s what children do. His intention is to recover the feeling of connection with nature. Man and the elements are all linked, we are a part of the same time and situation.
As the images are set in a white, clear background, everything happens inside the image, between the lines and the audience is invited deeper into the artist’s world. But the void, the absence is also seductive: the artist constantly completes the void or leaves it to the audience to fill it in. The reflection of his own appearance, which Mérelle consciously places in the décor, symbolises the possibility of confronting oneself with one’s self-image. Anger and fear, alienation and detachment, reconnecting with and through nature, but also the love for his wife and children are recurring (and for him timeless) themes throughout Fabien Mérelle’s entire oeuvre. As a spectator we’re invited to take part in the spectacle: his work functions as a mirror in which the spectator sees himself, feels involved and asks the question: who am I as an individual in this society?
Fabien Mérelle’s works have been exhibited at The Armory Show – New York and Paris, the Praz-Delavallade – Paris, Wilde Gallery – Geneva… and have appeared in multiple publications and are part of the Daniel and Florence Guerlain foundation – Paris. Fabien Mérelle is represented by Edouard Malingue – Hong Kong, Wilde Gallery – Geneva, Praz-Delavallade – Paris and KETELEER Gallery – Antwerp.