The windows of the soul
Yoann Mérienne's life sculptures, like a distant dream or a memory from a bygone era, evoke myths and legends that invite us on a contemplative journey. Set in timeless environments, the figures evolve in an uncertain age, where the only reference points are an indistinct, floating countryside and worrying landscapes.
A blue tinged black and white world, like a photograph from an archive, a negative of a real or imaginary memory, which, despite being distant and blurry, nevertheless reveals all of its brutality. The reason for this is because Yoann Mérienne paints as he sculpts: figures, plants and objects are carved in the flesh, the full volumes are shaped and given in powerful contrasts, breathing into each scene a sacred and uncompromising dimension.
The themes explored are mythological, historical, artistic or religious, and so de facto incorporate this reference to the sacred, whether it be divine or human. In both cases, it is a place populated by beliefs, intimate reflections... an introspective journey into a mysterious land, full of symbols and deep emotions. Painted with strength and vigour, portraits with closed eyes or with hidden, arid faces seem to hold a deep secret... that one would like to reveal. To raise the eyelids of these anonymous faces to know them - to consider them - becomes an irrepressible desire, which the artist knows exactly how to provoke. Uncover the eyes to get to the other side of the mirror... to get to the windows of the soul.
Body and soul are intimately linked for Yoann Mérienne and are shackled to an immemorial age - that of humanity - as much as that of the intimate. These four elements are merged in skillfully orchestrated settings: paintings that endlessly reinvent old mythologies to create new ones, populated by devotees performing rituals unknown to us. Future, past or imaginary eras, each and every time there is a questioning of existence and of the human condition...
If sculpture is at the heart of the artist's work, painting is its breath. The chiaroscuro lighting is practically photographic and sometimes pushes the subjects' exposure to the limit or defines a depth of field with great precision... and in the middle of this surrealist arena: the giants of Yoann Mérienne.
Independent art critic and editor