Stéphane Dumas — EPITHELIA
" ‘Skin – outer envelope of the body of vertebrate animals, made of a deeper layer (dermis) and a superficial one (epidermis)’, according to the dictionary. Contemporary art and especially body art have made an extensive use of this surface, sometimes by covering it with tattoos, sometimes by tearing it with scarifications. The exhibition entitled The Artwork’s Skin does not use this word in its literal meaning. The artworks suggest a meditation on possible links between thickness and transparency, depth and surface, palpation and caress. […]
With The Lost Skins Room, Stéphane Dumas presents synthetic rubber skins; these aerial and floating hides, permeated with light, are like the Holy Shrouds of the modern era. Due to the unexpected textures used by Stéphane Dumas, the exhibited works address as much the fingers as the eyes. The pleasure of looking is linked to tactility, vision is connected to palpation."
Press release for the exhibition The Artwork’s Skin [La peau de l’œuvre], UNIVER gallery, Paris, 2008.
"A light breeze can be felt as you enter a small room. The walls, illuminated from below, are thin sheets of moving membrane - latex to be sure - but very much like skin. The light makes the skins translucent and smooth one moment, filled with surface detail at another. You begin to see impressions, images and stories embedded into these membranes. You have entered “La salle des peaux perdues,” Stéphane Dumas’ sensuous and provocative investigation of myth, Christian iconography, biology and memory. Safe-T-Gallery will be the site for the first full scale installation of Dumas’ very personal and evocative “skins.” These are large latex sheets that have been poured and layered, impressed with various ex-voto’s - eyes, legs, organs, and then hung from the ceiling to produce close encompassing rooms and passageways. Dumas writes, “Skin, as exhibited in The Lost Skins Room, is leftover veils, shed membranes, peeled images revealing their thicknesses, their positive faces as well as their negative imprints. Being simultaneously matter and image, skin here, is both the material and substratum of art; fragile, though enduring as a memory anchored to its source.”
Press realease, Safe-T-Gallery, New York, avril 2006
Burning sometimes gives an almost ritual dimension to these objects, which are hung on the wall, laid or stood up, like a sculptural constellation. The lead’s opacity often dialogues with the dim glow of the image, and one gets a strange feeling of sacredness. In order to reveal the inside of things and human being, S. Dumas seems to need to darken and blur the outside shape.
The expression of his charcoal drawings on acetate appears more direct, but a feeling of mystery quickly emerges, while contemplating them. Impure geometric shapes serve as an excuse, for shadow and light, death and life, to dance.
Press release, gallery L’Atelier, Geneva, Switzerland, 1996
Photos of Buddha… souvenirs from Tibet or China ? India, Mongolia, Japan ? No, it is about the great Buddha of Vincennes, in Paris, at the utmost. Some photos are taken inside a Vietnamese grocery store in France; a world of closeness that Stéphane Dumas assumes with some irony.
The sense of sacredness is not due to the religious subject – whose «disaster» has been foretold since the Renaissance – but to the burning, inside the image, through its transmutation, under the action of resin, a vegetable substance which breaks like glass, becomes opaque and protects. The blurred figures appear through a misty veil. The artist questions the capacity and depth of today’s representation.
Like Christian Boltanski, the artist uses photography in a sarcastic way. But his criticism is to be found in the form itself, in these volumes with shifted edges – one part being an image, the other one being opaque (with lead, as a counterbalance), sort of reliquary where the photography would be preserved.
Critical review, Jeune peinture, Paris, 1995
There is a feeling of conflagration, of burning, diffused through the whole work.
The true rendez-vous of the young generation. Le Figaro, 25/05/1993
Stéphane Dumas © 2017