Etre « voyant », « arriver à l’inconnu par le dérèglement de tous les sens ». (Arthur Rimbaud)

Sylvie Abélanet is like a fortune teller in her work. She has always been inspired by poetry, especially the poems of Rimbaud. Foremost, she is an engraver and masters the complex techniques of etching (a process in which a copper or a zinc plate is engraved by being plunged into an acid bath that etches out the areas not covered with a varnish). The work is physical, as the artist confronts both solid and liquid elements. The odors involved in the process are strong and yet the manipulations required are delicate.

The workshop is full of life, work, concentration, and patience. The moments when the plates are being printed can be moving as watching a birth, as the images are transferred from the plate to the paper, the colors and shapes move and combine. The sheet of paper then hangs from a clothes line, where it must be observed painstakingly to decide if the desired effect has been achieved.

Sylvie Abélanet can then take her proof home. She can contemplate it at will, look at it from the corner of her eye, and feel the necessity to begin again, to transform it, to try something else.

And so emerges this other world which she allows to come to life.

The veins of leaves, the wings of dragonflies draw a strange mapping. Time has etched the lines, much as the acid has engraved the plate. Like dragonflies, our eyes come to rest on an ochre planet floating in a blue infinity.
We are often encouraged to lose ourselves or drown our thoughts in the meanderings of stalks and vines which resist the currents of this water world. Just like sheets of water running down a pane of glass.
Careful use of colors creates contrasting atmospheres. The yellow ochres, the orange of the “secret garden” bring us back to the origins of the creation, where seeds and dead leaves burst. The print “Foehn” could be a carnivorous flower, dancing and afire.

The human figure is more rarely seen, often hidden, fragmented, merged with nature, leaves, and the main element, water.
For example, Ophelia, subject of several etchings, is reduced to just one hand. A hand that never reached feather or leaf, a slow phantom vessel sailing on the waters of a dream. The face appears and disappears, born of the waters. The face floats, calm, peaceful, eyes closed. Ophelia no longer frets for Narcissus.
"The shivering willows cry on her shoulder, Over her dreamer's high brow the reeds bend.” « Les saules frissonnants pleurent sur son épaule, Sur son grand front rêveur s’inclinent les roseaux. » Arthur Rimbaud

The young man in the “Le dormeur du val” print is impressive because of his size. "Pale in his bed of grass where the light flows” "Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut” Arthur Rimbaud.
Sylvie Abélanet takes on the risk of large-size prints and we are struck by the presence of the body, abandoned somewhere between sleep and death. Earth to earth, the young man returns to the ground full of wild flowers and his hair becomes blades of grass. His eyes are closed as are Ophelia's. Is there a better way for the viewers that we are to imagine the visions behind the eyes, total obscurity or absolute light? Watching the sleeper is contemplating his intimacy; but it is also understanding the absolute separation from the dream of the other, forever inaccessible.

The print "Silence II” suggests that meteorites are born out of space. Fragments of skeletons and torn members are thrown into the face of nothingness. The empty, white, and soundless cry echoes absence and peace at last.

Sylvie Abélanet has an exceptional technical mastery. She takes risks and plays with the expected and the unexpected. Her universe is coherent, an ensemble of etchings that exists as a whole and individually.
Sylvie Abélanet gives the observer dream-like and poetic art. She questions the folds of our subconscious, the meanderings of our fears. The fear of suffocating, the quest for peace and the final return to the origins of a world where elements, colors, gouges merge. Where dragonflies gracefully accompany weightless leaves floating down wandering currents.

Christine Tardy
Conférencière des Musées Nationaux

Traduction de Khoa Pham et de Herb Miller