Léon RadegondeEgbert MardayNigel L HenriGeorge CamilleGerard DevoudDonald AdelaideSEY-Impressions

 

 

Artist Léon Radegonde (Mahé, Seychelles)

           

Introduction

Léon Radegonde´s newest work demonstrates an expansion of ideas, techniques and motifs previously explored through his earlier assemblages, collages and paintings.

There are, however, some significant fresh departures,notably three series of sculptures, two. designed to free­stand and one comprising fifteen hanging works. The starting point for all Radegonde's sculpture is the found object, just as you could say that the inspiration for his flat work has consistently been the 'found paper', unloved, distressed and discarded. Many curious and beautiful objects feature in all three sets of three dimensional work, the smallest being just four sawn, painted and burnt pieces of tree bark, further incised and embellished, and supported by embedded wire attachments that are functional -they enable the pieces to stand -as well as an integral part of the aesthetic of the piece. Together the four sections form a strange quartet which possesses discernable human characteristics, indeed the human body er, to be precise, the human facial features, provide the motif that links all of Radegonde's work (with the exception of a series of fifteen cut pieces of an ancient hard wood cross beam). The dismembered sections of this piece of architectural salvage are dense, heavy as stone in fact. Each piece has been worked individually, cut and gilded with rough purpose, and even though their hard geometry denies the metaphor of flesh there is yet a poignant human connection as the artist's grandfather was an accomplished carpenter.

The majority of hanging sculpture invites us to find ourselves depicted through the most universally recognised of all images -the human face. The eyes stare back at us from (mostly wooden) assemblages. An old shutter serves as a slanting profile, rust­peppered nails become eyes, a recycled bracket the bridge of a nose. Radegonde's skill lies in the understatement, the identification and juxtaposition of simple fragments to create uncompromising visual poetry. As with all work utilising the 'objet trouve' these sculptures reveal the great beauty and intriguing histories of the objects' former functions.

Faces also dominate the two dimensional work, with Radegonde creating no less than 54 individual works across three distinct series. The largest collection, comprising thirty pieces, sees the artist combining photographic images of 'unknowns' with the battered, lettered and ripped collage that has formed the spine of his work for so many years. The faces, photographed by the artist are, at times, no more than a smudge, a suggestion, like someone glimpsed or half remembered. In ether words the features are defined yet spectral, as if the image has been absorbed by the shredded paper. Sometimes Radegonde suggests a human presence with flashpoints of colour; vivid blue on creosote, or the kiss of scarlet on dark umber. Individually these works are inspiring, together they are stupendous.

A further series of fifteen works on paper bears testimony to Radegonde's powers as an alchemist, as he appears to turn paper into leather, hide or parchment. In fact the materials he uses are simply qar'd and paper. Through complex processes involving soaking in adhesive, over-painting and the systematic application and removal of many layer{ of paper, the artist creates sombre landscapes of depth; the groundings are stained, exhausted, drained and squeezed of their most primary colours. Against these backgrounds we can discern human features, and yet again when onfronted by nine smaller works on stiffened corrugated card.

This body of work sees Radegonde continuing his exploration of form and texture. It constitutes a tremendous range in terms of style and media, and shows yet again the artist's great empathy, love and respect for his materials.

Martin Kennedy: Teacher, writer and former Chair of the London Association for Art and Design Education

Photo, 75 x 58 cm, 2010

(C) Seychelles-Art, 2012