Bernadette Chéné

8 Feb — 25 Mar 2017 at the Galerie La Forest Divonne in Brussels, Belgium

Bernadette Chéné, Exhibition view. Courtesy of La Forest Divonne
Bernadette Chéné, Exhibition view. Courtesy of La Forest Divonne
15 MAR 2017

Since the 1980s, Bernadette Chéné has been invited, on a regular basis, by museums and art centers to design works, often of great size, specifically conceived for the places that welcome her.

The artistic career of Bernadette Chéné was deeply marked by the practice of tapestry and weaving in the early 1980s. Skilled craftsmanship, patience and accumulation allow the sublimation of a simple material. Tapestry teaches the feeling of space, the relationship to the place.

Driven by the heritage of Minimalism and Arte Povera, Bernadette Chéné uses simple materials, daily, familiar, to explore their outstanding artistic qualities. She definitely leaves ornament at a distance to favor a kind of listening, a subtle perception. The place of newsprint has become central in her work: when the daily reveals the essential.

Simplicity, Bernadette Chéné not only cultivates it in materials, but also in forms: she relies on primary geometry, circles, triangles, columns or pyramids to reveal the background of things, leading to what Didier Arnaudet calls a "complex nudity".

Bernadette Chéné reveals the subtle vibration of materials, mostly natural materials, such as wood, wicker and paper. Materials that continue to evolve in time, like that "stunned wicker" that continues to seek light, or paper taking over the years a warm golden color.

For it is also time that is always at stake: in the dark circles of the wood that she exposes and plays with, compressed under the bark of the trunks or extended to infinity in the "unrolled" pieces. The daily time of the newspaper of course, which marks each day by its successive editions, and details its events. Bernadette Chéné also likes to recall the definition given by the French dictionnary of the word journal: an old surface unit corresponding to the land that can be plowed by a man during a single day. These accumulations of newspapers are time, compressed, locked up, stopped. Newspapers that Bernadette Chéné twists, keeps, assembles, and never cuts. She does not cut them, "out of respect," she said, for these writings are loaded with what forms history.