Page 1


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.

William Wordsworth



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

Honora Foah

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

capacity as

movement of light.

apparently our

Many of us retain this

Western children

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 one’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 work— 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

work pornography?

into the portal of life

Because everything

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

something that

the waters of my life

doesn’t change.

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 PIERRE-YVES LE DUC  
The Art of Myth PIERRE-YVES LE DUC  

The Art of Myth Portfolio series featuring the artwork of Pierre-Yves le Duc.