From book to workshop
At the beginning of the eighties, EF brought together books and revues from his library into his workshop. He also gathered together his entire collection of documents, photographs, drawings and projects from his notebooks, folders and fascicles of all kinds. In some of these registers he literally copied the texts of some authors (mainly Julien Gracq) as well as anonymous travel stories. In the same body of these texts he also brought out by transparency some re-touched images in ink. In this way, real works and imaginary books coexisted in one and the same bibliographical whole.
In 1984 EF rented a large warehouse at the port of Nantes in which he began the mise en scène: placement of objects: tables, display cases, books, maps and plans of towns adorned the place. In this space he conceived a “cabinet of drawings”; a “Chamber of Cards”; “a Library” consisting of paper, and much later, a “Room for tracing”. These invented sites, which he chose to call “exploration sites”, were not conceived successively but simultaneously. They would be adapted according to time and circumstances and adapted to the location when the opportunity to exhibit them arose. The “Library”, for example, would be exhibited in five different ways in exhibitions in France and abroad. Thus EF conceived his works in his atelier as living and evolving projects and not as a place solely for the fabrication of artistic pieces.
A variety of techniques
Although the practice of drawing is at the heart of his work as an artist, EF also has recourse to a large variety of means of expression such as collage, models, photography, cut glass and printing plates. Conscious of the ideas used in (the) fabrication (process) and the quality of the materials used, EF places importance on the tactile aspect of his work. Touching the oeuvre is even essential to appreciate some of his exhibitions. Thus visitors were invited to use their fingertips to decrypt the pieces presented at the exhibitions entitled “L’invention du monde” (Centre Georges Pompidou) and “Onde de pierre” (at the Crypt de Rosnay l’Hôpital).
The abundance of information doubtless has its limits. In fact, for EF, the multitude of data, the proliferation of documents and arrival of the computer induced work directions which were too varied.
In 1991, following correspondance with the National Geographical Institute (l’Institut de géographie National), he chose to devote himself to one working theme-geography. This choice did not come to him due to a fascination for the aesthetic or nostalgia, but from an intuition that the map could be an inexhaustible source of ideas.
Physical geography, the geodesic projection, and the scale of representation seemed in fact to correspond to his artistic intention. From then, EF would turn out his inventive projects in 2 or 3 dimensions. He would express himself in drawing and in sculpture, evoking the miniscule and then the monumental. He would go from a simple sketch on a sheet to an immense circle on the sea. With a diameter of 266 yards, such was the scale of art piece on location produced as part of the international workshop of Fontevraud (Ateliers internationaux de Fontevraud).
A white album
In 1999 EF left his atelier in Nantes and settled in San Francisco, to a house lent to him by the gallery owner Paule Anglim. There, he started on a white cartographic album made up of number of papers containing sketches drawn by needle. This was a sort of brail or more precisely the creation of an image by piercing. This was in any case a technique which allowed the artist to satisfy his taste for lightness, economy of means, and above all for the digital journey of the meditative experience.
In minute and precise detail he worked patiently in the on uneven terrain brought out by the soft lamp light. Let us note here that the drawings obtained were not imaginary but reproductions of reality. A selection of these pieces was exhibited at the Paule Anglim gallery in San Francisco then at the Georges Pompidou Centre as part of the exhibition entitled “l’Invention du monde” (The invention of the world).