Fabrice Hyber: Interdit aux enfants

14 March - 13 May 2014 Bourg-Tibourg - Paris

For his first exhibition at the Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Fabrice Hyber is staging  Interdit aux enfants (Children Not Allowed), a somewhat provocative invitation to enter the world of childhood, something he visualizes as a creative attitude in the face of the world rather than as a journey mapped out in advance like a stage of life.

Presented in three parts – the index, the playground, the screen – the exhibition will offer visitors a playful cross-section of his different modes of expression – drawings, POFS (Prototypes d’Objets en Fonctionnement) and Homeopathic Paintings – in keeping with his most recent offerings at the Lyon Biennial, the Palais du Tokyo, the MAC VAL, and the Fondation Maeght in 2013.

The gallery entrance will operate as an index: drawings have been hung on a wall announcing the themes developed inside in rhizomatic and fragmentary fashion. A catalogue of forms-logos retraces a part of Fabrice Hyber’s personal universe. Similar to a school notice board characterized by an abundance of miscellaneous messages and signs, the exhibition too is suggestive of the exhilarating children’s activity in which everything that comes to mind is recorded graphically in a totally non-sequential fashion. For Hyber it is a question of “telling a story using all means available without preferring any one form of support over anothere”.

Constituting the nucleus of the exhibition, the playground gives access to fifty or so POFS adapted for children; these are variations of the famous Prototypes d’Objets en Fonctionnement, which Fabrice Hyber has been producing since 1991, in new versions created specifically for the exhibition. Hommes de Bessines made from Lego pieces, mini Ted Hybers, mini endless staircases, blue and pink square footballs, twin masks…. Pushing boundaries, the POFs ask us to redefine our behaviour. These “forbidden” objects, which have been disengaged from their original functions, demand new rules for their usage and, in so doing, turn us back into children.

A wall built in the middle of the gallery provides a transition to a contemplative space, where Fabrice Hyber presents one of his most recent homeopathic paintings.

The artist has produced his Homeopathic paintings at a rate of approximately one a year since 1986. They embody and put into perspective the questions that Hyber asks of a particular period. A fragmented series of drawings, notes, graphs and objects are telescoped together and coated in epoxy resin, thus becoming easier for viewers to “digest”. After all, it is only in small doses – and thus the name “homeopathic” – that these works can be appreciated.

The counterpart of a tangible, material children’s universe, this two-dimensional world functions, in a virtual manner, like a screen, in tandem with the imagination of the visitor, who is able to investigate the accumulation of images in the work: sketches of stomachs and of the Prototype de Paradis shown at the Lyon Biennial, images of primates, etc., all freely associated. Reflecting on the scale of his works, Hyber has strongly marked them with the presence of his body, not painting any higher than the level of his raised arm. Invested with autobiographical elements, this large format painting was also inspired by Hyber’s collaboration with researchers at the Institut Pasteur, for which the artist produced a monumental fresco with the title Sans gêne  in 2012.

As is often the case in Hyber’s work, the exhibition Interdit aux enfants allows visitors different registers of interpretation. With this paradoxical title, he grasped the opportunity to “show parents that he is nothing but a big child”. He was also interested in showing our fascination with artworks, which we are usually “forbidden” to touch yet are however very often “adult toys”.