Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Fred Deux

Before I left France recently I found time to visit an exhibition in Carcassonne featuring the work of an artist about whom I knew absolutely nothing

His name is Fred Deux

Le moule d'empreinte, 1950

The picture shown above - the first I encountered in the exhibition - is deceptive. What followed is remarkable and one can see, at once, the direct influence of Hans Belmer whom, it would seem, Deux knew well

 Sans titre, 1959

What is at once apparent are Deux's remarkable graphic skills. There is something Klee-like about his designs but closer inspection shows these little creatures to be less benign and far more malevolent

Le voyage de Jonas, 1961

While these strange creatures - this one resembling something between a whale and a sea-cucumber - are clearly animal forms there is always, in Deux's work, a human element

This makes for disturbing and, at times, hugely entertaining juxtapositions

La Gana, mars 1968

Fred Deux was born on 1 July, 1924 in Boulogne-Billancourt. His was a poor family, his father an ordinary  labourer They lived in the basement of an old building near the Seine and a place prone to flooding in winter. This explains the boy's poor health when growing up

During the war, as a young man, he fought in the French Resistance against the Nazis Afterwards, he trained as an electrician

By1947, Deux was living in Marseille. 

He was now working in a bookstore where he discovered the literature of Breton, Bataille, Cendras, Peret, and De Sade. He also discovered the paintings of Paul Klee and - lacking any formal training whatsoever - began to draw and paint for himself

Dieu des chats, 1973

He also experimented in little sculptures, using found objects. These show great imagination and a certain dry humour, typical of much Surrealist work. He had also begun to write - something which I will return to on this blog at a later date

Locus solus, 1986-1987

However, what I think marks Deux out as a highly imaginative artist - despite the strong influence of Belmer - is his graphic work. This is of the highest quality and close inspection of these complex engraving or drawings reveals incredible detail, much of it hauntingly disturbing
Dessin Magetique, 2007

What I find less impressive are his semi-abstract landscapes - like the one shown above. They lack the intensity of the engravings or his stunning pen-and-ink drawings

The fact that Le Musee des Beaux-Arts in Carcassone chose this as their poster may explain why I was not at first attracted to this otherwise remarkable exhibition!

 Sommeil paradoxal, 1989

What is also remarkable is that Deux is entirely self-taught and yet he manages to combine animal shapes with recognisable human forms in a completely original manner

 Sometimes, although almost savage in content, they are drawn with a delicacy that is deceptive

This 'simplicity' is the mark of a great graphic artist

If you would like to know more about Fred Deux, then click on the link below, since it is  Alain Margaron who currently represents his work


The illustrations for this brief introduction to Deux's work are taken from the catalogue published by Le Musee des Beaux-Arts de Carcassonne
The exhibition ends on 21st January, 2012

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