Opened in conjunction with a Daniel Buren exhibition in 2000, La Verrière Hermès has been celebrating the work of exciting contemporary artists, both the famous and the lesser known. The concept is fairly simple: Hermès gives carte blanche to a selected artist who has to come up with a unique – and temporary – installation for the space. This month, Stéphane Erouane Dumas unveils his latest creation, evoking the beauty of cliffs and their imposing scale. We sat down with the French artist who gave us an exclusive preview of the work and explained why it took him 2 years to get it done.
Cliffs are an important motif in your paintings. Does this have anything to do with your upbringing?
I’ve been working on cliffs for 20 years now and have been fascinated with them since I was a child. I split my time between Normandy and Paris, going back and forth for work. I guess nature is a fundamental part of my identity and essential to my research.
Why does nature inspire you?
There’s a form of musicality within nature that I am strongly attracted to. It has a melodic and spiritual quality at the same time.
What do cliffs represent for you?
Cliffs are alive. They move and crack each year. They have a voice of their own. I love the way they reconcile different worlds, combining plant life with mineralogy. There are various rhythms as well, and their colour changes according to season.
The work itself has a fairly imposing scale. What did you want to achieve with this?
I wanted to bring different cliffs together, which were memories from previous trips. There are references to the South of France and Turkey, but I tried not to make them too literal. There’s a degree of abstraction, too.
Cliffs are interesting in terms of scale, giving you the impression they are close when, in fact, they’re quite far off.
Absolutely. I spent a lot of time working on the idea of scale for this installation and had to make sure I could find the perfect one.
How long did it take you to complete the work?
It took me 2 years, on and off. This has been my biggest and most challenging project so far. Everything was painted on paper and it took me a while to get hold of the right quality. It was a trial and error thing. Each panel weighs around 5 kilos, which is not that light considering it’s paper.
What do you like about La Verrière as a space?
I love the light here. I also like the fact that each project has to be unique and tailor-made within the environment.
Portraits by Tristan Mauroit. All other images Courtesy of Hermès and Stéphane Erouane Dumas.Stéphane Erouane Dumas: “CLIFFS” Produced by Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès Opening 20th of April, 18h00-21h00 Exhibition runs until 14th July La Verrière Hermès, Boulevard de Waterloo Waterloolaan 50 – 1000 Brussels