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Armature by Hervé Beuze, A history of mankind

Armature by Hervé Beuze, A history of mankind

Armature, Foundation Clément, October-December 2016


Armature , vue d'ensemble

Armature , vue d’ensemble

If a work of art is not necessarily explained by the biography of its creator, we can always find something from memory of the artist on an art work. For Hervé Beuze , the fisherman traps not far from his house, the habit of collecting on the way to the beach all sorts of things, to create new ones, the metallic and massive world of containers that his father unloaded on the port , will all be found many years later in his plastic vocabulary.


Chaudron 1992

Chaudron,3m de hauteur



I am fascinated by the very first works of an artist; by their embryonic quality. First fruits, insights of the question that will ultimately be the real signature of the artist, they often contain in potential what the artist will develop afterwards. Chaudron (cauldron), in 1992, was already made of Hervé’s favorite material, metal, and was the result of artistic gestures he uses till now : hammering, folding, tying, ligating, assembling, … it was also already linked with his preoccupation with history, his interest in the human body. A simple metal column, Cauldron is nevertheless organic. Hammered up till it looks like flesh…. One can feel the body in it, martyred, constrained, and tied up.

Armature allows the artist to put in place the equation that has haunted him for a long time: body, human, history. For Hervé Beuze, working on memory is never just looking back to the past. He knows History is told in the present, to project oneself onto the future. It is a narrative that he has fine-tuned since the series of maps (Lizin kann, Machinique, Matrices, Mes Martiniques) where cartography was a deeply human geography, up to its history of man with The Armature installation. Memory is here as much individual as it is collective. Pegged to the body, it is shared. It is the real frame that the artist make visible. The work of Hervé is political in the first sense of the term, a work in the polis that raises questions and nourishes the debate.





Resilience 2007


In the nave of Foundation Clément, as in a slave ship, but standing and marching as in a procession, six couples are aligned, each assembled according to a molding of the artist’s body and one of his students. So they’re all alike. They stand there for humanity. These humans, each of them, are unique and each piece has specific details that individualize it.

Genèse (Genesis) has its head covered with strips of metal as if just coming out from the forge of the demiurge who created them.







 Liberté (Freedom) surmounted by its crown of armaments, questions power and identity, while having a funny side as the weapons that overhang them look more like Toys than real guns.

The couple Résilience (Resilience) is like patched up, bandaged by wires to hold together the metal plates that cover it. The plates mounted upside down have the color of a wound on the outside.





Digenèse (Digenesis), with its different skins, refers to the concept forged by Glissant, for those territories whose genesis is far from being unique, and the multiple filiations almost impossible to establish. « Acclimate the idea of digenesis, accustom yourself to his example, you will leave the impenetrable requirement of excluding uniqueness. Edouard Glissant, Tout Monde – a whole world- 1997.

Getting out from the exclusive uniqueness, such could be the purpose of the couple Fleur Fleur (Flower flower). The Flower flower couple, whose body is singularized by a wire armature made of copper pipes painted red, creates the impression that their skeleton is a venous network; coupled with nature Flower flower indicates creation.

Contrary to the paradigm of contemporary art, Hervé is an ‘art maker’. Where making has lost its importance, Hervé, like Paul Klee’s demiurge artist, creates new beings with the existent. Its creation is as much in the conception than in the making , in the melee with the material. This intimacy with the material allows him to bend it to his will but also to take advantage of it, to rely on its intrinsic characteristics, to bring back to his creations the significant charge that the material carries, approaching in this the ‘Arte Povera’ statement.





Armature presents itself as a kind of cosmogony. Wandering among the emaciated giants reinforces the impression of a mythical narrative. The installation plays transparency, the void speaks as much as the full. The play of cast shadows adds to the poetry of the work. It reminds me of the Great Gallery of Evolution (National Museum of Natural History).

The last couple, Connected (original title in English), connects us to the present, to the future and to the past but also to the world. Each one of the sculptures of the installation could stand up by itself. They are nevertheless connected to the ceiling and to each other by wiring, which has the dual purpose of ensuring the safety of the visitors, while making clear the interconnection between the elements of the narrative; a connection that goes beyond the frame of the island and of the exhibition.  Hervé’s work resonates with that of other artists working around the body and the memory, the multiple and the unique, the singular and the universal.

Matilde dos Santos

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