Sylvain Rieu-Piquet is showcasing the power of the pen with his debut exhibit at the Liaigre Townhouse in midtown Manhattan.
On view now through February, Tuberose Absolute features 17 of the French artist’s large-scale, ink-on-mylar creations, which demonstrate the artistry of painstakingly detailed drawings.
His pieces are at once minimal and overwhelming; the juxtaposition of scale with tiny, intricate details make for works that truly take your breath away.
We spoke with Rieu-Piquet to learn more about his technique, the inspiration for the exhibit and more.
What inspired this collection?
This collection is inspired by natural forms, of different kinds: vegetations, smoke, liquids … the evocations vary according to the paintings; there is never the same pattern twice. There is never direct figuration, just reminiscences.
Tell us a little more about the process of creating each piece.
Different drawings are developed in parallel. It can happen over months, [but] sometimes years go by without me touching a work. This allows the eye to rest; there is no rush to make decisions … knowing that with the technique of the permanent ink, there is no turning back. I draw on the ground, focusing my attention on a very small surface, on a detail, and without taking into account the final composition. There is no top, bottom, left or right in the composition, until the moment of framing and hanging.
How did you develop the technique?
An important point was the discovery of the mylar (or polyester layer) which allows me to juxtapose several layers of drawing. Layering brings blurring and brightening effects, and thus, depth to images. The style has come progressively as a completely automatic writing. You just need to be drawing for hours, without thinking.
How did this collaboration with Liaigre come together?
Valerie Maltaverne, with whom I work as part of her studio Ymer & Malta, has exhibited my drawings at her home gallery for years. This is how her longtime friend Deborah Comte-Liaigre was able to see the genesis and evolution of this work. We started by working together on Liaigre’s Projects. As art is at the heart of their work and they install works in their showrooms, the idea of the exhibition came natural.
Where do you begin when creating one of these expansive pieces?
The drawing of this collection has potentially no limit in terms of format. The construction of partitioned frames makes it possible to compose panels one after the other. I like the idea of collecting several drawings in one, to enlarge a shape, potentially to infinity.
Tell us a bit about your background. Have you always created works of these scale and style?
The practice of drawing has always accompanied me, but I started to work as a designer, and the transition toward art is very progressive. I continue to produce some pieces of collectible furniture, as well.
How has your artistic development evolved over the years?
I have tried many styles and techniques – figurative sculpture, ceramics, metal, oil painting, glass – but in the end, the drawing, which is the simplest technique, always comes back to me.