François Méchain is a sculptor and photographer with a real love of nature. In the open air or on display in galleries and museums, his work draws inspiration from philosophical, poetic and political reflection on the environmental concerns of our time. This year, having creating the L'Arbre aux Couteaux in the Stable Yard and the subtle and dreamlike L'Arbre aux Échelles installation in the Domaine’s Grounds, his new sculpture, …Durban…, is located in the Bee Barn.
“A metaphor for the sufferings of forests throughout the world, fallen victim to intensive clearing, this tree is a wider evocation of our inability to take real political and economic decisions. Alarming expert assessments of the general state of the physical world have been piling up on ministerial desks for decades now, and Earth Conferences and Summits succeed one another (Rio de Janeiro 1992, Kyoto 2005, Copenhagen 2009, Durban 2011, and so on), but all parties finally balk at making any real commitment, however sick the Earth seems to be.
Today, everybody knows that global warming is an ever increasing threat that puts the whole of humankind in serious danger. What will our future really contain? No one has an answer, but everyone has come to understand the gravity of the situation. As usual, economic reasons put forward by those in power and the self-interest of a few politicians seeking re-election prevail over the public good. With rising sea levels, certain small countries are in danger of simply disappearing. Is their continued existence so small a matter compared with the chronic blindness of the few? When will the next Durban be?” François Méchain.
Sculptor and photographer François Méchain was born in 1948 in Varaize, Charente, where he still lives and works today.
He studied at the National School of Fine Arts in Bourges, and teaches photography at the School of Fine Arts in Saint-Étienne. He is associated with the Michèle Chomette Gallery.
In the tradition of land art, François Méchain takes nature in the raw as his subject matter, creating ephemeral sculptures in situ, always keeping the history of the place, the photographic viewpoint and the installation’s future in mind. Through his lens, he perpetuates the brief lives of his landscape sculptures, born of his passion for the things of the earth he criss-crosses and examines in the course of his frequent travels.
“My work seeks to dig into the earth’s crust. The difficulty lies in finding the right distance. Consider that my sculptures are also created to be seen through my camera’s viewfinder. I’m always looking to confuse matters. No one has ever known quite how to classify me: photographer, sculptor, sculptor for photography, photographer using his laboratory to remodel light as he would do with earth…? I like this area of uncertainty.” Extract from the collective work François Méchain, l’Exercice des Choses, 2002.