To mark the opening of his exhibition at Brussels gallery Island last week, we take a closer look at the work of painter Frédéric Dumoulin (1979). A graduate of La Cambre, Dumoulin’s work contrasts the soft with the somber, his intense colour palette elevating otherwise simple subjects matter to more mysterious and complex heights.

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What were your original ideas and intentions at the start of working on this new series? 

The entirety of paintings are part of an exhibition at Island that I called Cor Caroli. In fact, I find it challenging to give a specific work of mine a title as my work lends itself better to a title that encapsulates an entire series. But, for the past few years, certain subjects are recurrent in my work: mountains, people, leaves. So determining a new series is a little difficult – everything is continued, on-going. A constant back-and-forth.

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What would you say was its starting point? 

I take a series of documents that I leave out in my studio to “breathe” as it were until one of them gives me a little bit of its essence.

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Is there something very specific you’re hoping the series will express/communicate?

Chants and silence.

Can you talk to us about your approach in general?

The central point is the search for an appropriate light, looking for a thread that might bind the works together. The subject matter is very often extremely simple (house, mountains, faces) but it is in the brush’s movement, in the light suggested that this simplicity becomes mysterious – somewhat of a call for silence and slow perspective that allows one to open up and discover. I’d say that the act of archeology in its wide sense is somewhat similar to what I do. I try to suggest, express, a certain silence, a distant and intimate music.

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How would you say this series fits in with your wider body of work?

Everything lies in the continuity of things and that’s difficult. Maintain a sensation throughout the years is a bit like playing with echos amongst the haze.

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Can you talk to us about how you see your own work? How would you describe it? 

Take the time to look, to impregnate oneself slowly. To see the light filter through the matter.

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What is your preferred medium for exhibiting your work? Book? Solo show? Group exhibition? 

A group show is interesting when it involves intelligent contrasting points. But a solo show remains the most loyal reflection of an artist’s work. For the viewer to really be immersed in a silence, he needs to be accompanied by a certain radical element. For example, the person looking for silence at the mountain won’t go with a boombox on his shoulder. And the physical presence of the paintings is fundamental. The representation of a painting only really works if the viewer has already felt its substance.

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Who would you say was instrumental in shaping your work?

All the living and the dead that I’ve crossed paths with. But, most specicially, Piero Della Francesca, Peinture de Pompéi, Palais de Cnossos, Homère, Purcell and Josquin des Prés.

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Frédéric Dumoulin “Cor Caroli”
Runs until 31st October
Island, Brussels
islandisland.be