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Fondation d'entreprise Hermès opens an exhibition of works by Patrick Neu
Patrick Neu, Manège, 2019, preparatory drawing. Courtesy of the artist.

SAINT-LOUIS-LÈS-BITCHE.- Following three seasons of exhibitions co-organised respectively with the Centre Pompidou-Metz, 49 Nord 6 Est – Frac Lorraine, Metz (Lorraine regional fund for contemporary art) and La Synagogue de Delme – Centre for Contemporary Art, the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès presents a solo exhibition by artist Patrick Neu entitled “Manège (Carousel)”, devised in association with the Cristallerie Saint-Louis and La Grande Place.

“Fairs, which are abundant in our collective memory, are wonderful reservoirs of images and powerful emotions that collide at the slightest prompt […] Fairground objects […] are repositories of the fair’s imaginary world […] they bring to mind long-lost memories, recalling moments from childhood […].” Fabienne and François Marchal, L’Art forain, les animaux de manège, Les Éditions de l’Amateur, 2002, page 15.

A carousel, its wooden horses turned to crystal, four of them taking flight around the huge chandelier suspended in the central well of the museum at La Grande Place, in Saint-Louis: this fairytale piece — like an ice sculpture from the palace of Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen — is the work of Patrick Neu, an artist inspired by his role as the Cristallerie’s creative director. Neu exploits the medium’s fascination, challenges and contradictions — its fragility and hardness, its technical complexity and purity, its transparency and air of mystery — to relive the sparkle of childish glee and popular excitement at the arrival of the fair.

To recapture that sense of sheer delight, Neu has worked with the master glassmakers at the Cristallerie Saint-Louis, through complex production stages and in minute detail, to shape the six crystal horses — part animal, part angels of light. Using resin casts of two fairground horses, he has personalised their anatomy, poses and decoration, finishing each with a real horse-hair tail.

The museum’s spiral itinerary follows the architecture of the space and gives visitors a sense of the carousel in action: the gentle rise and fall of the horses that lulls their young riders, excited by the magical setting, their crystal laughter tinkling as they turn. The four horses — a fairground quadriga — draw us into their airborne dance, like the four seasons marking the duration of the exhibition, and the four ages of life, forever Illuminated by the glow of childhood memories.

This solo presentation by artist Patrick Neu continues the series of temporary exhibitions produced by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès at La Grande Place, Musée du Cristal Saint-Louis in Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche (Moselle) – part of the Foundation’s international programme of activities in partnership with museums and at its art spaces in Brussels, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo.

Patrick Neu was born in Moselle in 1963. He lives and works in France’s Grand Est region. He became creative director at the Cristallerie Saint-Louis in 2002.

Patrick Neu works with materials seldom seen in the world of art: a straitjacket made from the wings of thousands of bees; a sculpture in Indian Ink; a suit of Samurai armour in crystal; a veil woven from human hair… His often experimental pieces employ precision techniques and handiwork. Since 1996, he has also used lamp-black (soot) and the point of a pin to reproduce masterpieces by Hieronymus Bosch, Holbein, Rubens and others inside a glass, and, since the early 1990s, has worked in watercolour on paper. His works are characterised by minute attention to detail and extreme concentration, coupled with an interpretative, contemporary reading of classical Western art and culture.

Patrick Neu studied visual arts with Sarkis — a pivotal influence — at the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg, graduating in 1986. In 2007, Sarkis invited him to take part in two exhibitions at the Louvre and the Musée Bourdelle. He was a resident at the Villa Medici in Rome in 1995, and the Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto in 1999. In 1997, he was invited by Didier Semin and Georges Didi-Huberman, to take part in the exhibition “L’Empreinte” at the Centre Georges Pompidou. In 2008, the FRAC Lorraine presented his first solo exhibition, “L’instant n’en finit pas”. His work featured at the Printemps de Septembre in Toulouse in 2009, and in “Chefs-d’œuvre?” at the Centre Pompidou-Metz in 2010. In the same year, MAMCO Geneva presented a solo exhibition of his work under the title “Dans la suie des images et les iris de la pensée”. In 2012, La Verrière — the Brussels art space of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès — presented his solo show “Iota Pictura”. In 2015, Patrick Neu exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and at the Centre PompidouMetz (“Simple Shapes”). In 2019, his watercolours were featured at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Paris in the exhibition “Iris, Jardin des délices”, alongside works by Cézanne and Delacroix. The Abbaye de Maubuisson, in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, presented “Échos”, a solo exhibiton of his work, from October 2018 to March 2019.

Patrick Neu is represented by Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

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