Solo Show, Foire ICTAF, Cape Town ART FAIR
Du 16 au 18 février 2024
Le Cap, Afrique du Sud

La Nature Retrouvée / Nature Rediscovered
by Edi Dubien (France, 1963)
Alain Gutharc Gallery (Paris)

I speak as much of an animal as of myself,
I speak as much of a plant as of myself ,
I speak of a birth and upheaval. I speak
Of existence to be protected: children as
well as nature, beasts, a part of us

Edi Dubien


Texte de Mariella Franzoni,
Commissaire d’exposition de la Cape Town Art fair

A natural environment imagined as a gentle and benevolent mother, populated by kind animals and taciturn children and teenagers, emerges from the work of French artist Edi Dubien in his La Nature Retrouvée / Nature Rediscovered. His works on canvas and paper rewrite the story of his childhood and puberty while addressing questions of gender identity and transformation.
« A mosaic of an untitled series of drawings and watercolor portraits, starring children on the cusp of adolescence, whose facial lines occasionally blend with figures from the natural world – a deer, crow, fern branch, dog, or shell – acts as a chorus to the central painting “Leopard Self-Portrait” (2023).
« We are introduced to an intimate, personal story of gender transition, where the human body is transformed through a process of meshing and hybridization with the plant and animal world, as it discovers a myriad of new, unexplored corporeal natures emerging from within. The transition occurs in a rural setting, where the wood, wind, rivers, and its flora and fauna provide a constellation of a nourishing, affective community. Dubien references L’Enfant sauvage (The Wild Child) by the French director François Truffaut, the 1970 film that narrates the story of a kind doctor and his housekeeper who join efforts to raise a “wild boy”that emerges mute and wounded from the forests of rural France. Released during the « flower child » era the film explored the Romantic notion of the « noble savage » versus rationalism and civilization. From this controversial landmark in the history of cinema, Dubien recovers the theme of the apparent conflict between nature and culture, or spontaneous animality and tamed animality.

However, in the biographical narrative behind La Nature Retrouvée / Nature Rediscovered, the artist reverses the process: as a space of learning and unlearning, the forest is what gives the individual back the most important capacity for knowledge – the knowledge of oneself.

Mariella Franzoni