SEPTEMBER 2019 / New York


Pierre Marie Brisson’s new exhibition, Oceania, attests to the immersive influence of the tropics and the lush impressions of the flora and fauna surrounding Brisson’s new studio on the island of Cebu in the Philippines.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the exhibition title also pays homage to the French master Henri Matisse and his epic mid-20th century diptych, Oceania the Sky, Oceania the Sea, created 15 years after a 10-day journey in the South Pacific in 1930. Matisse, four decades after Paul Gauguin, followed the same call of the sea and depicted in these works the golden light and the merging worlds of sea and sky, with a timeless and poetic grace that would attain iconic status. The works had a deep influence on a young Brisson during his formative years, first in Paris and then in the south of France.

Following this path of French modernism, Pierre Marie Brisson has been using paper: cut, painted, folded, and marouflaged to transcribe images of the south of France and the Mediterranean for decades. Now transported by a fresh habitat – Brisson’s work takes on new meaning, both absorbed from the exotic locale and in heightened reflection of what it is to be French. Of this unique contrast between painting locations in southern France and the Southeast Asian islands, he says: “They are different, but I find myself there. These are the environments that move around me. It is not a story of decoration, nor of geography, but of freedom.”1 And that freedom is reflected in his new work which reveals both his never-ending fascination with the sea and the life in and around it, but also a new sense of color and light from another side of the world.

1: art+, French Contemporary Artist Pierre Marie Brisson, The Call of the Sea, Issue no. 59, 2018, p. 57