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Patrick Neu’s work in situ at La Verrière is a thoughtful tribute to the history of art, and a gesture of artistic humility, working with an unexpected, eminently transient material – soot – to propose an alternative, contemporary reading of our conventional artistic culture.
Patrick Neu loves working with unusual media, finding new uses for wax, bread, soot, even crystal – the raw material for a suit of armour made at the Cristalleries de Saint-Louis. His work challenges accepted norms and boundaries, exploring the fragility or strength of his materials from new and original perspectives. In the words of La Verrière’s artistic director Alice Morgaine, Patrick Neu’s work is ‘inscrutable, furtive, magnificent, dazzlingly modest.’
Neu’s use of soot stems from his childhood in Moselle. Some of his earliest works used smoke-blackened wine glasses to recreate scenes from great masterpieces of Western art, reproducing iconic details and landmark images, rubbed out of the soot.
In the same tradition, Neu’s new work at La Verrière features five glass cases presenting the delights and temptations of Life, Time and Death. Black soot – that most fragile and evanescent of materials – creates effects of transparency for a series of vanitas images which are themselves acutely vulnerable and ephemeral.
A former resident at the Villa Medici (the French Academy in Rome), and Kyoto’s Villa Kujoyama, Patrick Neu (b. 1963) is a graduate of École des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg, where his teacher Sarkis was an important mentor and influence. His work has entered the permanent collections of the FNAC in Paris, MAMCO in Geneva, the Musée d’Art Moderne in Strasbourg, and the regional contemporary art centres of Alsace, Lorraine, and the Pays de Loire.
Artistic Director: Alice Morgaine