Battre la Campagne (Scouring the Fields)
from September 2014 to August 2015
Yves Chaudouët is the associate artist of the Art Centre’s 2014–2015 season: Battre la Campagne (Scouring the Fields). Every year La Criée associates an artist with its projects. Working together this way means a sharper focus on art and generates a new kind of long-term partnership with the artists, a close link with the creative process. Yves Chaudouët is the associate artist for the 2014–2015 Scouring the Fields season.
An artist-gardener, Yves Chaudouët knows how to give the same subject all sorts of shapes and subject the same object to all sorts of changes. Reflexively he makes the creative process the concrete subject of his works, whether literary, pictorial or staged.
The countryside where Chaudouët scores the fields is manifold: it’s wild, made of animal rocks and high grass; it’s traversed by gold prospectors, gleaners and madmen; it’s domesticated, built up and cultivated; it’s swarming with life – and sometimes with boredom too; it has vast skies and lands never dreamed of.
For the Scouring the Fields season Chaudouët will be offering an exhibition spilling out beyond the walls of La Criée and into the Rennes countryside; inviting his theatre company and many other fertile sources of inspiration to his table; organising study days; and in general fuelling the programme with his interests, ideas and investigations.
“My first pictures were either portraits or very big nocturnal landscapes based on images taken from texts or films. I hardly ever went outside my studio, but in a way I hollowed out windows giving onto a dark, windy horizon, with a dying light falling on a tree or at most a copse or two. One day in 1995, while I was working like this, I went outside. I wanted to see the grounds for my vast romantic fantasies in a real landscape. Armed with a camera whose lenses were as serious as my intentions at the time, I squatted down to touch lichens, peony shoots, mushrooms, ferns and springs, as well as all sorts of everyday curiosities that sprout between cobblestones in cities and proliferate in the wild Cantal region where I was living. Guided by some of my farmer neighbours, wise grammarians who taught me a few of the basics about understanding forests, valleys, streams and hills, I got onto intimate terms with my surroundings, swapping paint and lenses for more botanical tools.
I never got over this ’experience’ of landscape. I gave up the enormous, now superfluous formats and any tool I couldn’t carry. This was the beginning of an ever-lighter journey during which I met Sophie Kaplan. I think she spotted me in the distance on a track somewhere. So I’m going to spend a whole season at La Criée trying to bring together the things I gleaned in the midst of those landscapes; first by painting them, then by being among them.
But can you actually call this ’countryside’? This is maybe the first of the many question Scouring the Fields – so wickedly taken up by Raymond Queneau – is that it’s wide open to interpretation. So why not stick to its exemplary, poetic capacity to challenge us and to stop the lava from hardening?”