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Pierre Duret



Self-taught sculp­tor; also a jour­na­list.

First artis­tic reve­la­tions: Bran­cusi and Giaco­metti at the Centre Pompi­dou in the late 1970s. Follo­wed by the Port Saint-Bernard sculp­ture garden in Paris, inclu­ding César and Poncet, not to mention all sorts of other places and artists – and Calder most of all!

Learns arc welding from André Dubreuil in the Vitra work­shops at the Domaine de Bois­bu­chet; then oxy-acety­lene welding from Paul Flury in his work­shop in the Creuse dépar­te­ment.

1990s: makes furni­ture and lamps, and begins expe­ri­men­ting with steel rein­for­cing rod sculp­tures.

His first success­ful rein­for­cing rod pieces appear in the 2000s, and little by little he adds to their number.

Around 2010: begins working on his sculp­ture on a daily basis. The next step forward is his first exhi­bi­tion, at the Racont’arts gallery in Lyon in 2014.

Pierre Duret passed in Novem­ber 2016. Feel free to get in touch with his chil­dren at: contact@­pier­re­du­rets­culp­tures.net

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2014 Octo­ber – Novem­ber
Équi­libres et vibra­tions poétiques
Racont’arts Gale­ry– Lyon

Since 2014 Novembre
Two sculp­tures on perma­nent display.
Sylvie Garri­gue’s Galery – Lyon

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Artis­tic approach

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Space and move­ment

Calling space into being. By which I mean brin­ging one solid form, then more, into an empti­ness, linking them with lines and orga­ni­sing the inter­spaces that give them reso­nance. Calling space into being. By which I mean summo­ning up some­thing enig­ma­ti­cally self-evident: the exis­tence of space as a presence made mani­fest in whis­pe­red conver­sa­tions between solid and void.

My work is a kind of assem­bly process. Metal rods func­tion as lines of force, liga­ments, vectors. Cut, curved, bent and welded, they encom­pass simple volumes made of wood, cement and model­ling clay, and struc­ture them. Some­times rami­fi­ca­tions appear – a kind of efflo­res­cence. A construc­tion is born, a kind of punc­tua­tion.

Drift­wood and little bits of hamme­red brass add their own distinc­tive feel. There are inter­ac­tions between rhythms, textures and colours, all of which have been chosen for their vita­lity and power, and for the inter­play promp­ted by their combi­na­tions.

Inscri­bing signs in space then orches­tra­ting them reas­sures me: whew, reality really exists!

I love trig­ge­ring the obvious this way: suddenly some­thing comes fully to life, in a pulsa­tion I try to summon up but have trouble actually stating. At the same time I love it when a move­ment – an oscil­la­tion, a rocking, a gyra­tion, fast or slow and barely percep­tible – injects an element of doubt into this certainty, a touch of fuzzi­ness into this order.

I try to conjure up this « poetic » moment. The vibrant, asto­ni­shing certainty that some­thing is at stake in this space.

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Drawing, inten­tions, desires

No rules in advance, but a few recur­ring desires: the work has to have just that right « ring » to it. The laws of equi­li­brium and gravity play their part: tensions arise between the neces­sary verti­cal and the obliques – it has to hold toge­ther! And for a third way to open up, all that’s needed is the sligh­test breath or touch of the fingers: the pieces oscil­late, move­ments happen, coming toge­ther or coun­te­rac­ting each other. Mobi­lity or simple flexi­bi­lity: it has to hover.

I make no preli­mi­nary drawings, I don’t go looking for any two-dimen­sio­nal form on paper, except, maybe, for a few tech­ni­cal sketches or explo­ra­tions of propor­tion. I draw no plans, espouse no concept what­soe­ver. I simply do my best to engage with the shapes and mental images I’m drawn to, which I see as inhe­rently « poetic » and imbued with a force of their own. It’s only after­wards, when a piece is fini­shed, that I can endow it with an inten­tion – with an expres­sive title. I like to think of a crafts­man assem­bling pieces of wood as his perso­nal plea­sure dictates and then, once the object is comple­ted, telling a curious visi­tor, « Oh, yes, it’s a chair; I hadn’t plan­ned that ».

Certain desires, no drawings – purposes seeking them­selves out. Self-confi­dent credos leave me very scep­ti­cal: there always has to be a myste­rious side to this uncer­tain game.

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Compo­si­tion and narra­tive

Like it or not, in the final analy­sis there’s always narra­tive. Inva­ria­bly the viewer launches into a « that reminds me… », begin­ning an account of what the artwork « relates ». Me too: as the work advances in the studio I deve­lop, « on the quiet », a kind of story made up more of possi­bi­li­ties than inten­tions – even though the initial concept, the mental shape that set me working, is a response to an idea and a desire that are purely visual. This is how a construc­tion envi­sa­ged as a kind of spatial punc­tua­tion culmi­nates in a merging of more or less arche­ty­pal remi­nis­cences inclu­ding boats, buil­dings, birds, flowers and faces.

Compo­si­tion equals merging equals compo­si­tion. The work is only complete, as I see it, when it has been through these stages. If indeed a poetic force emerges, it seems to me that it hinges on the conjunc­tion between spatial reso­nance and an evoca­tive power within the compo­si­tion.

Even so, I mistrust narra­tive: too clear – too « figu­ra­tive » – it would bore me, although less by its clarity, it should be said, than by its unity and unequi­vo­cal­ness. I prefer multi­pli­city, equi­vo­ca­lity. I accept narra­tive in its « active » state; in other words when it sparks a whole set of remi­nis­cences and asso­cia­tions each viewer can work through freely.

That’s the way I’d like my output to work: solely through evoca­tion, with the « meaning » or meanings left hanging, floa­ting…

All of us can unreel stories, all of them both possible and different – that’s great! It’s almost a rule of thumb for me: stick to the fringes of narra­tive, and prefe­ra­bly outside it, so as to preserve this multi­pli­city of poten­tial stories.

I could, too, opt for cutting back the narra­tive aspect, in favour of more « abstrac­tion ». I’m often temp­ted, but for the moment I’m not sure I know how to go about it. Maybe it will come some day.

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Daydrea­ming in space

The artis­tic values I love and which are reflec­ted in the objects I make have to do with construc­tion, wear and tear, and past magni­fi­cence. As well as with verti­ca­lity, that alliance of the deep-rooted and the ethe­real. I move ahead through these evoca­tions and asso­cia­tions, I conjure them up, I blend and expand them – all the while care­fully keeping asso­cia­tion sepa­rate from iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Among the things I make you might detect the traces of my love for the Bauhaus and Art Deco, Afri­can and Outsi­der art, the Modern move­ment, the archi­tec­ture of the first half of the 20th century and the sculp­ture of the second half. I’m not trying to make a case for them: I freely acknow­ledge their presence, that’s all. After all, how not to pay these conti­nents the homage they deserve? These traces are part of my desire for a world of evoca­tions condu­cive, above all, to a state of daydrea­ming in space.

In this regard, and in my fond­ness for hands-on craft work, I love Gustave Moreau’s charac­te­ri­sa­tion of the artist as a “work­man and assem­bler of dreams ».