Fabrice Hyber: Mutations Acquises

4 February - 4 March 2015 Charles Decoster - Brussels

A year after his first collaboration with the Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Fabrice Hyber will be welcomed for the first time to the Brussels gallery, where he will show his exhibition “Mutations Acquises”. For the occasion the show is bringing together fifteen or so new paintings, each an invitation to discover Fabrice Hyber’s factory of functional dreams and fantasies.

From April 24th, 2015, the French artist, at the invitation of Bart de Baere, will be exhibiting a series of new works on forms of language at the MUHKA in Antwerp.

“My paintings are moments of euphoria in which I set landscapes, bodies or processes currently either undergoing transformation or being questioned”. This is the description given by Fabrice Hy- ber of the works exhibited at the Galerie Nathalie Obadia, which to him are like “solutions for adap- tation that go as far as the possibility of mutation”. This remark strikes a chord with the artist’s first solo exhibition in 1986, titled “Mutation”. This title-cum-manifesto could alone describe the close on thirty years of graphical and conceptual reflection in which the artist has always attempted to represent the multiple processes of transformation of matter and the unbounded power of works of art for metamorphosis.

His “Mutations Acquises” are illustrative of different themes dear to the heart of the artist, for exa- mple, hybridization, here embodied by an octopus whose tentacles end in human organs: itself a nod in the direction of the Darwinian theory of evolution in which species adapt to their environment in a process of perpetual transformation. “Become fluid” is one of the solutions captioned and pro- posed by Fabrice Hyber for adaptation to respond to climate change, and is also indicative of his ecological concerns. These are further illustrated in a drawing on the theme of recycling in which three mountains of waste appear in a joyously colourful yet toxic landscape: this reference to our ambivalent attitude is treated with the artist’s typically ironic tone.

And yet more mutations, through the transfor- mation of organic matter: here Hyber invents a machine that transforms the humble potato into French fries or mashed potato using a mecha- nism formed of intersecting grills. It is from this type of drawing that his “Prototypes d’Objets en Fonctionnement” (known as POFs) are derived. For the most part fabrications, they are devices or situations that invite visitors to interact with them and invent a usage. The subversive mission of the POFs is to “encourage mutations to the point of creating new systems of diffusion”. In so doing, they run counter to the trend of Pop Art, by ta- king art into the world of consumption rather than vice-versa.

And mutation once again, this time with the prin- ciple of digestion, represented here by camem- bert cheeses eating one another, in a form of “self-recycling”, as the artist notes on the canvas. Fabrice Hyber takes this gathering of gluttonous “pacmen” as an opportunity to convey a warning about the various excesses our consumer society indulges in.

These non-exhaustive examples of mutations are necessary to Hyber “to advance and conquer new forms”. They prompt new ideas in this artist who develops his paintings through the use of story- boards in which images are associated with words that provide their “regarders” with keys to their understanding. Various notes, calculations and annotations dot the surface of the canvas, resem- bling the blackboard of a researcher or a botanist’s plate.

Hyber’s approach is precise and almost always starts with a drawing. “At the beginning, there is of- ten a design, a freehand sketch in charcoal or pastels on the canvas, a first ‘phrase’ that announces the premonition of a more comprehensive project”, says Hyber. The speed with which the design is created stimulates the free emergence of unfettered ideas, in what he calls “states of non-vigi- lance”. It is these that give free rein to his desire to transform of the world. This outlook, which is as political as it is poetic, is an expression of the rebellious and libertarian spirit that makes Fabrice Hyber one of the most important artists of his generation.