Laurent Le Deunff is a major artist of the French contemporary art scene. Since the early days of his practice he has been forging a sensitive relationship with nature and its elements, without ever taking them as a pretext for a subject, but rather by becoming as one with them through the intermediary of the materials he draws or sculpts. His works evoke the primitive shaping of matter, the totem object and the traditions of classical sculpture, oscillating between learned and vernacular representation.

Laurent Le Deunff is a collector of objects that have their roots in natural history and this passion has made him receptive to the aesthetics of cabinets of curiosities. Thus far he has avoided this approach in the presentation of his own works, undoubtedly considering it as too simplistic in relation to his own creations. In his most recent exhibitions, he has chosen to manipulate the scenography thus creating an atmosphere around his works, setting them in a décor that imitates the natural environment, blurring the lines between nature and culture. Le Cellier (the Cellar), situated below ground and consisting of a long and narrow space, is an ideal setting to play with the codes and traditions of the conventional exhibition. This subterranean space evokes the image of a secretive world that is almost sacred in nature, the caves of our distant ancestors, or the idea of buried treasure, while the elongated space recalls the early artistic galleries, and the studiolo of the Italian Renaissance. The oeuvres thus refer to origins of the artistic exhibition, the mirabilia, medieval or renaissance collections that made no distinction between man-made objects and items from the natural environment. The common ground shared by these objects was that of the wondrous, while they also reflected man’s fascination with material wealth. Yet Laurent Le Deunff’s works abrogate the frontiers between “the curiosity, sustained by the marvelous” and the rationalist approach of the classical arts and sciences. They are the ghosts of these mirabilia, come back to haunt our minds.

Curator (exhibition & texts): Elsa Bezaury
Translation: Chris Atkinson.