M Art Center is honored to present Rocks from Other Hills, the solo exhibition of French artist Guillaume Hebert. The exhibition will be opened on March 10, 2018 and remain on view through April 21, 2018. Rocks from Other Hills marks M Art Center’s first collaboration with Guillaume Hebert and also the artist’s first show in China. Guillaume Hebert was born in Normandy, France and graduated from Ecole Supérieure d’Arts & Médias of Caen. He has been based both in Taipei and Paris since 2012.
Rocks from Other Hills —— Poetic rumination of the nature and humanity by French photographer Guillaume Hebert
Guillaume Hebert always creates images precisely, delicately and thoughtfully. And his every series comes out with high quality and perfection. Through the camera scope, Hebert sometimes focuses on the city corner to reveal the imbalance of rapid modernization and backward situation in Asia, and at some other time, the intriguing scene of guests dosing in Taipei Starbucks and Shanghai IKEA also attracts his attention. After that, Hebert tries to compose still life and portrait images with his collection of plastic and nonwoven bags. And not the last, he gazes at the Pacific and Huangpu River where the peaceful breeze interchanges with violent waves, and describes the impressive outline of the magnificent rocks standing by the seashore of Ludao and Lanyu… This abundant creation not only conveys Hebert’s feelings about today’s culture of industrialization and urbanization, burdenless compassion to the loneliness and tiredness of urbanites, but also shows his humble respect towards the nature and ruminating thinking of the aesthetic development from painting to photography. Although Hebert is working on various subjects and themes, all of his works implicate the philosophy of humanity, poetry and history with his deepest emotion in a classical manner. The majestic and stirring atmosphere overwhelms and encloses the visitors, making his work last for time and appreciation even without any explanation.
In this exhibition, Rocks from Other Hills, Guillaume Hebert shares his several experiences these years in Ludao and Lanyu. The bizarre rocks he shot on the islands, as a subject, are implanted to the vast sky and clouds in the paintings by British and French famous romantic artists such as William Turner’s time (1775-1851). The integration of photography and painting, nature and humanity, currency and history builds up the mixed context in a procedure close to classical painting. First, the artist should make a fieldwork for as many raw materials and sketches as possible. Based on the collection, the artist starts the contemplation about the theme and makes the decision on the content, form and layout. After that, he has to keep trying and adjusting the sculpt, color, texture, light and atmosphere till perfection. This is exactly the reason why Hebert’s pieces stand the test of aesthetic critique.
Guillaume Hebert was born in Normandy which is a coastal city in France where the antifascist alliance confederates launched the decisive invasion towards German Nazi during World War II on June 6th in 1944. This makes me realize that the deep sense of history and meaningful metaphors and symbols embedded in Hebert’s works about sea are bound tightly to his identity as the son of Normandy. Liberated from linear time and specific space, the rocks as firm as memorials in this series are, thus, set free for imagination and connection. To me, one of them represents the land floating from the deep sea at the very beginning of creation while another one reminds me of Tower of Babel painted by the Dutch artist Bruegel Pieter the Elder (1525-1569) which refers to human’s highway to heaven in the myth. Not only that, there is also one stone bringing me back to Patmos Island where St. John the Apostle was exiled and witnessed the whole series of revelations. Moreover, this series recalls The Tempest which is widely regarded as Shakespeare’s poetic testament. In the play, Shakespeare implies the experience of the humanists in his generation by telling a twisted story of a father Prospero and his daughter Miranda who are deployed to a wilderness. As the allusion of Shakespeare himself and other humanists, Prospero believes too much in the omnipotence of science and knowledge, and insists that gracious virtue and noble mentality grow from enlightenment and education, which then transforms the society to a better place. However, the story ends with the failure of this utopian fantasy. In the actual world, the evil essence within humanity tends to increase with time rather than improve with wisdom. The play wakens the consciousness of people like Shakespeare and pushes them to reflect on their belief.
As Shakespeare witnessed the Kingdom’s historic climacteric, British romantic artist William Turner, whose painting is collaged in Hebert’s series Rocks from Other Hills, lived his life not only with the fate of Napoleon and the process of the French Revolution, but experienced the impacts of the industrial revolution as well. Under Turner’s brush, the sublime nature suppresses humanists’ arrogance, transcending the limit of human beings and breaking the restrictions of time and history. As the Chinese ancient poem said, the great gushing Yangtze with piling waves flows towards the east, away it carries gallant souls of the remote bygone days. Those who once ruled the world are no more than a passerby in the long river of the romantic history, or sand in the grand nature. Even the most durable humanity cannot last longer than the nature. Finally, the nature created by God will doom arrogant people to nothing in the space.
In the series of Rocks from Other Hills, coastal stones and sea waves in Guillaume Hebert’s camera compose an echo song of fading history, plucking our silent chord, far and near, up and down.