Galerie La Forest Divonne presents Ivresse, a photographic exhibition of Jean-Bernard Métais. These photos all have the same framing, all the same subject: vats of wine… Always the same circle inscribed in the square edges of the image. In this restricted space, however, it is all the diversity of biology, matter, shapes and colors that unfolds before our amazed eyes. Traveling from one image to another, you no longer know whether you are glued to the lens of a microscope or that of a telescope. The boundary between the infinitely small and the infinitely large is abolished. Métais leads us into his poetic vision of the world, and grape juice becomes the Milky Way, the deposit it leaves behind, a river delta, sand, retina…. The alchemy of the winegrower who transforms fruit into nectar joins that of the artist who transforms reality into a poetic song.
We know Jean-Bernard Métais sculptor, often monumental, with great works visible in public space almost everywhere in the world, in Tianjin, Shenzen, Cardiff, Luxembourg, Brussels, Valencienne, Paris… Wine collectors also know the great winegrower, custodian of centuries-old family tradition, in a niche French appellation: Jasnières, a small wine-growing treasure nestled in a hollow in Touraine, where the Métais family has produced from father to son since the 16th century one of the wines with the most noble aging in the world. The best vintages can easily be kept for more than a hundred years… While his career as a sculptor took him around the world, Métais always returned to his few acres of vines over which he watches lovingly over and whose wine he sculpted with the inspiration of the artist.
Since 1976, when he took over the family torch, Métais has developed a singular photographic work: he tirelessly photographs the remains of his wine vats each year, to the exclusion of any other subject. Always following the same protocol. Capturing the evolution of wine at all stages of its transmutation. In 1989, he began to archive them under the title “Les Accouchements of the being of wine ”. We have chosen among all these images, the most emblematic, the strongest, to bring together the first retrospective of the photographic work of Jean-Bernard Métais in Belgium.
An hourglass and a few glass vials filled with century-old wines will complete the display, opening onto the sculptures of Jean-Bernard Métais, with which the photographs share a passion for time and light: sand, emblematic of Métais’s work, he first encountered in the family cellar, where pockets of sediment locked in the rock for thousands of years sometimes flowed: and the solid world becomes liquid, and the distant past reveal itself in the present… The hourglasses of Métais, time-catchers, join his wine: “When we taste very old vintages, we physically experience a journey back in time, we become the time of this wine, which becomes a part of ourselves. “, he explains. Enclosed in original baroque glass vials, which Métais will present in the middle of his photographs, we will see the color of time, from the soft yellow of recent wines to the orange color of old vintages.
Photographs and sculptures seem to have just come out of an alchemist’s workshop. Like the wine in which they take their source, they give a slight vertigo, in front of the corridors of time that they open, in front of the distances that they cross, from the cell to the comets and planets. Métais, alchemist, deploys his poetic euphoria of the world.
Jean-Bernard Métais : Ivresse
February 10 – March 19, 2022
Galerie La Forest Divonne
Rue de l’Hôtel des Monnaies 66
1060, Bruxelles, Belgique