François Chaillou

Somewhere between dreaming, wakefulness, and sleep, the faces of François Chaillou evoke a tangible and mineral poetry that connect us with the vegetal reign.

When he isn’t in Italy, François Chaillou is to be found in his Parisian studio where he works on many pieces at a time, including his wax portraits. His wax portraits incorporate pieces of vegetation and onto which he sculpts the faces of his loved ones, and strangers. If you spot a similarity between François’s sculptures and Greek statues, it’s likely because he studied at Carrare, and went on to produce sculptures in marble and stone.

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François’s portfolio, which is much more spontaneous than any sculpture in the round, includes three clay sculpted bare busts that are placed just before the entrance of the exhibition. The idea came to him at his home in Italy, when he decided to gradually save up the modifications that he’d made to a piece of work after observing the original clay version before it was exposed to the outside elements. When asked about the meaning of his pieces, François claims that he is looking to maintain an ambiguity on what they represent for the visitors. Are they masks of the dead, or of the sleeping? It’s for each person to reflect on what the works represent to them, that makes them statues of sleep or death.

François Chaillou focuses on the lips and eyes. For him, they conceal the secrets of the past. Scatty and abstract plants appear to have burst through the skull, and this depicts the organic destiny of life, or perhaps the delicate haze of sleep.

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Evocative of Rimbaud’s ‘Dormeur du val’, the pieces dwell on silence. They silence their thoughts about who they are and what they will become, and they silence meanings and words. They dwell on the eternal. For those who see it, and certainly I did, these faces express much better than words ever could, the secret of a world caught up between wakefulness, sleep, and death. They evoke the tranquillity of eternity.

Danièle Pétrès