Frédéric Malette — Brûler les fleurs


Collage, drawing, painting

Frédéric Malette
Brûler les fleurs

Past: May 26 → July 13, 2023

The gallery is pleased to show Brûler les fleurs, Frédéric Malette’s new exhibition.

The powerful drawings, images recomposed by collage and hybridized faces question both humans and History. Frédéric Malette’s work is fed by family archives, reading and iconographic research.
These features are combined with sensitive observation of the contemporary world. The works shown were made this year in Paris during his residency at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, in collaboration with the Cité internationale des arts. His attention and research were focused on the history of plants—especially ‘exotic’ plants, their exploitation and the forming of the landscape. He shows us a corpus of works consisting as much of hybridisation as contrast and in which the human figure—a landscape face, a portrait with a flower in its hand or surrounded by plants—is always in the centre.

‘The drawings that I make—by superposition, erasure, collage, the reappropriation of rebuses—enable me to question the landscape as a ‘cultural factory’ that is no longer considered as a ‘natural space’ but as a ‘production space’. I am currently focusing on the domination of knowledge and natural areas in the early 20th century and in particular the spatial dimension of production relations and how this affects mentalities today. In this research, I set the drawing off-centre in order to depict the changing of landscapes at the scale of bodies, sensitivities and worlds. The creation process is based on analogy and re-sizes the subject via plastic aberrations.’ Frédéric Malette 2023

Large formats, collages of torn paper, show the correspondences that the artist observes between periods and the reading that we can make of these today. In these tormented images, the line of the drawing creates a link through the contrasting of different techniques: graphite, gum, aerosol spray, glue, soft pastel, etc.

Colour in the works is by means of tracing paper—his favourite support for years. For the first time, the use of paint has gained an important role in his work. In recent years he began to colour certain drawings using sprayed grounds—like veils and often monochrome. Paint is now used as a material and is no longer at the service of drawing. It colours graphite work.

Is the confrontation between acrylic, textured, coloured paint and the often matt black and white graphite a plastic rendering of the relation between past and present, with its contradictions, violence and myths?

‘Brûler les fleurs’, ‘Semblables et si différentes’, ‘Esthétique et politique’ and ‘Parade sexuelle’ cover a series of small works drawn from Frédéric Cousinié’s Paysage du paysage (1). In a study of the great 17th century works, the art historian considers the mental, cultural and ideological landscape. Does it mix with the real or represented landscape? Does it replace it, going as far as imagining that it is finally the spectator who becomes a landscape? Made using graphite and glazed pastel on tracing paper, these faces/landscapes are metaphors of landscapes designed by and for humans.

The exhibition also includes several portraits such as ‘L’homme à l’œillet’ in which the artist plays with the pictorial codes of classical painting by using contemporary models holding a flower, thus restoring—sometimes with a measure of irony— the symbolism of flowers at the centre of representations of humans.

The works made in recent months are set in the continuity and development of his art that is resolutely focused on figures and the question of our humanness. They also show a change in plasticity. Frédéric now sets up a dialogue between graphite drawing and paint or pastel, but keeps a certain distance, referring to his bunches of flowers as ‘lousy paintings’. He is not fooled by the traps of the ‘pretty picture’.

(1) Frédéric Cousinié, Paysage du paysage, Nicolas Poussin, Claude Gellée Le lorrain, Sébastien Bourdon,
Les presses du réel — œuvres en société, 2022.

  • Opening Thursday, May 25 4 PM → 8 PM
04 Beaubourg Zoom in 04 Beaubourg Zoom out

40, rue Quincampoix

75004 Paris

T. 01 45 55 23 06 — F. 01 47 05 61 43


Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 2 PM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

Venue schedule

The artist

  • Frédéric Malette