Hugues Reip

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L'ÉVASION, 2018 (The Escape)
L'évasion L'évasion
Exhibition card

Les Pistils, 2007
Polystyrene, acrylic coating, motors. Courtesy of the artist.

Windowblow, 2018
Photograph printed on transparent film. Courtesy of the artist.

Q.I. Al dente (to François Curlet), 2005
Luminescent tubes. Courtesy de l'artiste. ©Photography Frédéric Iriarte

L'évasion L'évasion
Black Sheeps (details), 2014
Dust, butterflies, metal screens, Kevlar threads, aluminum tubes, motors.
Courtesy of the artiste and Le Carré, Scène nationale and Centre d'art contemporain du pays de Château-Gontier.

Exhibition view, on the wall, Night Music (Deep) (to Öyvind Fahlström), 2007
Illustrations on magnet sheets, painted metal. Courtesy of the artiste.

L'évasion L'évasion
L'Orque, 2018
Acrylic resin, paint. Courtesy of the artiste.

L'évasion L'évasion
0,25, 1990-1991
Various materials. Courtesy of the artiste.

Infraboom Infraboom
L'évasion L'évasion
The Eyeland, 2018
Wood, artificial flowers, earth, various materials. Courtesy of the artiste.

L'évasion L'évasion
Dreaming out of windows, 2018 - according to Joseph Cornell’s Dreaming out of windows, dreams, December 18, 1965
Digital prints on paper, acrylic on wood, various objects. Courtesy of the artist.

Sssans titre, 2018
Metal. Courtesy of the artiste.

Noirs desseins (series n°2, 4, 5 et 6), 2012-2016
Ink, colored pencil, watercolor and collage on paper.
Collections Sonia Perrin ; Véronique de Bellefroid ; Sémiose ; Bernard Prévot (Bruxelles) ; André Magnin ; galerie Magnin-A (Paris) ; private collection (Bruxelles).

— L'Évasion (The Escape)

« It might be easier
To fail—with Land in Sight—
Than gain—My Blue Peninsula—
To perish—of Delight— »
Emily Dickinson, It might be lonelier (excerpt), 1863

« Experiencing escape, in its ambivalent relationship with boredom, is what it is necessary to invent in order to escape or abandon oneself to it. » Hugues Reip

Sculptor, draftsman, musician, video filmmaker, photographer, Hugues Reip (born in 1964) freely draws his inspiration from works in the tradition of alternative-world fiction, so-called social science fiction, from the early 20th century, as well as the beginnings of animated cinema and the history of scientific illustration. His art is fueled as much by a certain 1990s underground rock as it is by the infinite variety of land and sea fauna and flora.

Viewers of Reip’s work travel through a landscape in which perception and illusion are two major experiences. In his pieces, each tree, each object seems to conceal a fantastic divinity in some form of surrealist syncretism.

Hugues Reip is a gardener of the supernatural. In his show called L’Évasion (The Escape), which combines past masterpieces and new works, we get to watch the dream of a butterfly, for example, that flits among clouds of dust. Black Sheeps (2014) is a group of five spinning mechanisms. They are sorts of dust planets and make their revolution in Crédac’s large main gallery. Further along we witness the creation of a fantasy island that is planted with a tree from which immortal flowers and other plants dangle. The Eyeland (2018) is a colorful island that is overlooked by a watchful eye, suggesting Odilon Redon, or putting us in mind of the guardian balloon from the mythic TV series The Prisoner (1967), where no escape is possible. Playing as always with artifice, Reip places in his unserious worlds rocks that are sometimes miniscule and sometimes oversized, and creatures from the deep that exist right beside simple matchsticks. And in Windowblow (2018), he superimposes reality on illusion through a trompe-l’oeil image of the city landscape outside the window.

The series Noirs desseins (Dark Designs – 2012-2016) shows the artist’s fondness for the history of scientific illustration and the work of Lucien Rudaux (astronomer, 1874-1947) and Ernst Haeckel (biologist, 1834-1919), along with the film special effects of Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013); while Mushbook (2008) displays his reading of the hallucinatory work of the Beat Generation. Nova Express (1964; first French edition, Christian Bourgois, 1970) is the title of the book that is central to the piece and is incidentally the name of Reip’s first rock band.

He shows off his references, both to Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) through a diorama in which he plays with surrealist techniques, juxtaposing fantastic and dreamlike elements; and to Öyvind Fahlström (1928-1976) for assemblage and collage in a form of poetic invention. Considered his first work of art, 0,25 (1990-1991) is made up of tiny sculptures that could almost be spontaneous drawings. His entire vocabulary is already in place, the vocabulary over which floats the esthetic of the artist H. C. Westermann (1922-1981), which combines Surrealism, the spirit of Dada and Folk Art. Seen through the prism of the macro- and the microscopic, his worlds harbor the patient reality of work, the compulsive collections of small found or jury-rigged objects, and the mysteries of the art studio.

Claire Le Restif