French artist François Réau: capturing space and time in Australia.

French version This article has been published exclusively by the  Courrier Australien and the Alliance Française de Melbourne. 
Since 2015, France has been offering its artists the possibility of a unique experience within an artists’ residence in the heart of the Australian bush. This year, artist François Réau was lucky enough to be welcomed to the Bundanon Trust. The result of his six-week immersion will be presented at the Alliance Française de Melbourne from the 18th of April in an exhibition simply entitled ‘Draw’.

The way I work is a reflection of how I am in the world” states François Réau. A position which forces him to question the notion of space, but also time: this “fourth” dimension which is so difficult to represent tangibly in artwork and which Malevitch worked on, through his ‘suprematism’ art movement. Trained at the dual school of Fine Arts and Applied Arts, he already has a number of years’ experience behind him with solo and collective exhibitions, residencies, scholarships and prizes. But what attracted him to Australia? “Certainly, its remoteness, the fact of changing hemispheres and also the landscapes which I had heard were spectacular.” François Réau fantasises about “being adrift and the ways of losing yourself” in a world where GPS tracking is everywhere. Is it still possible?    


François Réau applied for the residence about a year ago. The adventure started in November 2017. The location of the residence is in the former home and workshop of Australian artist Arthur Boyd in New South Wales; what makes it so special is that it is situated three hours from Sydney in a natural area which is still very wild. “I was set up in a little cottage with access to the large surrounding areas”. There, François Réau could talk to the 6 other artists (poets, writers, musicians…) staying at the same time: “Inside Bundanon Trust, it was also an opportunity for me to encounter different experiences –  no matter the medium”. Around three hundred people are welcomed each year. “Solitude is essential for my work, but it is always interesting to be able to speak to different people. This is how I got the idea to try making a video, a medium that I hadn’t used before”, explains the artist.

The exhibition will therefore present a film, as well as a physical creation: the space and time drawing machine. This is a sensitive cube that records exterior vibrations (without the use of electronic sensors) and which reproduces them as outlines. A map is stuck to the 6 interior faces of the box, inside of which, a ball pricked with pencils moves freely to the rhythm of the artist’s walking. His trips therefore take on a graphic form. “I wanted to give a consistence, a materiality to time” explains François Réau. The title of each work is therefore a combination of the number of kilometres covered and the time necessary for each walk. “At the same time, I also created a large immersive drawing using pencils and graphite”.

Having returned to Paris for work, he will soon get back on the plane to come and set up his exhibition in Melbourne. Some photographs and other works will be available for purchase, however not the “machine” which will be taken back to France. Afterwards, he will head off again for a collective exhibition in Pörnbach, Germany, then to Issoudun for a residence at the Saint-Roch museum in France. “This year for me is quite busy” admits François Réau. Will he come back to Australia? The artist who said he is fascinated by “the opposing seasons, the starry sky and the connection to nature” would like to, who knows, one day… first of all, he needs to find time.      

By Valentine Sabouraud
Translated by Ilaria O'Brien


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