PIERRE-YvES LE DUC
The life of all that we behold Depends upon that mystery. Vain is the glory of the sky, The beauty vain of field and grove Unless, while with admiring eye We gaze, we also learn to love.
The Visions of Pierre-Yves le Duc
Almost two years ago, my husband Dahlan and I went to the studio of Pierre-Yves le Duc in
Naples, Italy as a courtesy to see a friend of a friend and ended up staying most of the day, mesmerized by the work. They look like angels, birds, bodies being crucified. They look like yoni. They are white on white; they are black on white, white on black. They look like the explosion of Vesuvius; they are phalluses from heaven entering the volcano, and they are holy brains as well.
In Pierre-Yves’ studio, what struck
spontaneous line and gives
me, besides the sheer beauty of
weight and importance to the
the work, was how the figures,
negative space, which in this
how the things he painted and
case is usually the main corpus—
drew felt so accurate. That is,
literally—as the white space is
they corresponded to how my
usually the body. “The white
body feels—not what I see, but
gives the invisible a certain
what I feel kinesthetically.
amount of tangibility,” he says.
The process by which Pierre-Yves
This gives the negative space
creates the paintings is laborious,
weight, especially in the
exacting work. From the initial
paintings where the line itself is
calligraphic gesture drawing, he
then left as raw linen canvas.
paints a negative many times
For Pierre-Yves, this is his way of
larger, which preserves both the
emphasizing the body as light.
If the answer is infinite light, why do we sleep in the dark? Paul Simon
Even as babies, we
skin seems to be
are mesmerized by
leaking from human
the light, by
movement of light.
Many of us retain this
fascination all of our
spend almost no time
lives. Le Duc is one. I
whatsoever in nature.
asked him about his childhood because I wondered how he came by the ability to feel his own body and translate to something visual. The whole aspect of being a human being who can inhabit oneâ€™s own
In fact, le Duc did spend a lot of time in the woods by himself, or drawing by himself because he was a lonely child who did not find it easy to fit with other people. Here now with this
work, there is the rowing toward humanity, rowing toward love, that perhaps in the beginning was not so readily given.
Le Duc as a person drawn to light, has made work which resonates with many aspects of the world from the sexual to the cosmic because one is drawn through his admiring eye, by his desire to learn to love. This desire is somehow visible on the canvas and it pulls us through the portal of the image. The loving does the workâ€” for him as an artist sweating it out 10 hours a day, and for us, for whom he has made a trail by the heat of his own desire.
So why isn’t le Duc’s
Le Duc looks straight
into the portal of life
and keeps looking
about it, not the least
until the dimensions of
of which is the sheer
sex, birth and creation
effort and tedious
begin to be
amount of work it
illuminated. It is not
takes to make it,
that everything can
speaks to the desire to
be reduced to sex, it is
be with the
that sex is a reduction
foundational forces of
of the entire structure
life. Rilke, in his Letters
of nature and the soul.
to a Young Poet, says that he had to leave the church because it refused to deal with sex.
“Reality is a fulcrum…if you don’t have something on which to stand, then where can you go from there?” le
These are where my
Duc says. “That’s the
real questions are!
base of humanity, it’s
Rilke says. If you do
how we keep the
not help me in this
species alive and it’s
beginning question, if
the waters of my life
are muddied here at the font, how can anything else ever come right?
“What is most interesting to me now is the fragility of humanity. This is how I feel about the world at this time. Personally we are fragile and the world right now is fragile. There is a precariousness to the human race…The only salvation for the human race would be something spiritual. “I hope my work can be a window on another dimension of the world, a heightened awareness.” For himself, le Duc also creates a heightened awareness. “I don’t just want to make art that is easy to understand, [though I want people to have access and I don’t want to be obscure] but I want to make things that feel real to me. Some artists do market studies but what I am trying to do is more like extreme sports. It creates destabilization in the observer. Not something prepackaged, but that has an element of risk. Until the last moment, I don’t know what that work will give. The risk is what drives me.” The paintings are an exposure of something that is usually hidden, the fact of making them is a risk and an exposure with the intention toward making the gaze sacred. That is the work of turning from a purely aesthetic gaze to the effort required when we allow something to work on us, expose us—the viewer or the maker—until in penetrating the essence of the thing, we learn to love.
Sacred Portal: The Exhibition Sacred Portal is on exhibit at the Bill Lowe Gallery through April 30, 2012.
Bill Lowe Gallery 1555 Peachtree St NE, Suite 100 Atlanta, GA 30309
Pierre-Yves le Duc
Sacred Portal © 2012 Mythic Imagination Institute All Rights Reserved
Artwork © 2012 Pierre-Yves le Duc All Rights Reserved
Photography © 2012 Dahlan Foah All Rights Reserved
Mythic Imagination Institute 659 Auburn Ave, Suite 266 Atlanta, GA 30312
The Art of Myth Portfolio series featuring the artwork of Pierre-Yves le Duc.