Clément Denis delves into the complexities of communication and the human condition, utilizing a mix of media like mosaic and painting. His works, centered around anthropological themes, often feature portraits that evoke a sense of shared uncertainty and confusion, emotions integral to his creative process. Over the past decade, Denis has focused on memory fragments and the human body as a vessel of consciousness, gradually shifting from dark, rich tableaus to pieces marked by fluid lines and a vibrant, acidic color scheme. The 2021 lockdown sparked a creative surge, leading to his series "Le Chant du Fleuve" [The River Song]. Inspired by a prophetic dream about his family home on an island, partially submerged underwater, his series reflects on the impacts of climate change and humanity's journey in facing imminent ecological challenges.
Clément Denis, born in 1991, is a contemporary artist whose work is a rich amalgamation of mythology, literature, poetry, and pivotal events from the 20th and 21st centuries. Living and working in the historic ambiance of Monet's house in Vétheuil, France, Denis is a graduate of the Fine Arts School of Paris and was honored with the BV Collectors Award in 2019. His artistic approach is deeply spiritual and emotional, yet simultaneously physical and visceral. Denis prefers to paint with acrylics, often using his hands to rapidly spread color across large canvases or heavy sheets of paper, creating works that are as much about the act of painting as they are about the finished product.
Denis is also adept in creating mosaics with Murano glass, a technique that adds a textural dimension to his work. The themes he explores are as diverse as his mediums. He delves into nostalgic landscapes, the complex inner worlds of individuals, and the spiritual journey of the human soul. His works often reflect on contemporary social issues, such as the exile and wandering of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, presenting a poignant commentary on current global challenges.
His style and color palette are dynamic, changing with the subject he explores. This adaptability in his art is a testament to his respect and inspiration from both old and contemporary masters. Denis sees himself as a part of the European humanist artistic tradition, a link in a chain that connects the past with the present, and the tangible with the spiritual.
Denis' art is a dialogue between the artist and his myriad inspirations, where each stroke is a word and every color a sentence. In his journey, he continues to push the boundaries of traditional art forms, creating a unique space for himself in the contemporary art world. His works are not just visual feasts but are also invitations to introspect and connect with the larger human experience, making Clément Denis a notable figure in modern art.
LE CHANT DU FLEUVE
In 2018 Clément had written his end of study memoir at the Beaux-Arts untitled: "Et si tout avait déjà changé ? Systèmes économiques versus climat" [And if all had already changed? Economic systems versus climate]. In a wide historical survey starting with the Big Bang, he showed man’s place in nature, his relation to nature and his interaction with nature. He concluded with the anxious existential question haunting the 21th century: To change or to disappear? In 2021 the lockdown led him to Noirmoutier where a premonitory dream inspired him a new series, The river song. In it he saw the island and his family home engulfed into water, only the treetops and the roof emerged. For three months he pondered over the relentless climatic change and its consequences on nature, as well as man’s initiatory path faced with the impending unavoidable calamity. […]
In "Le Chant du Fleuve" [River Song] he reaches at an initiatory pantheism translating the nostalgia of a disappearing world in a remarkable vision of man and nature. Paradoxically it is on the shores of the Atlantic that he evokes the river, the Loire of his childhood. He makes of it a solid blue matter, alive and shimmering with golden hues. Man faces himself, in surrendering to the element he is dissolved but not petrified like Ophelia, he is now absorbed by the water of Memory and Knowledge. In its whirlpools are concealed the esoteric symbols of various religions and philosophical beliefs, in a visual and metaphysical syncretism expressed through a complex repetition of motifs. Among them appear the Egyptian ibis, the Celtic Triskèle of the Britons, the Yōkai, incarnation of the mysterious and ghostly Japanese spirits mentioned in a title. The titles describe the metaphysical aspect of his thinking: The wave, Pop Hokusai : The dreamer, Body tectonic, Plug, Whirlpool, Duel, then in a second subtitle taken from science-fiction of a subterranean world; Underworld : Hokai in time, Dreams creator, Obsessional introspection as a triptych, and finally a whole gallery of birds’ portraits: Birds left as imprint. […]
Clément introduces in this series a new and totally original visual language. He uses the symmetry of the composition and the repetition of motifs to create a hypnotic and hallucinatory effect where colour, light and strange forms from a fantastic world merge, blend and engage in a dissonant symphony. The human figures are also absorbed by the syncopated rhythm around a central axis. He says that he produces a mirror image alluding to the two levels of reality and of the consciousness in water, using the Bird’s Language on a play on the word eau, l’eau de là, the water here and l’au-delà, the other world. The human bodies also become a repetitive decorative motif in this aquatic world quivering with a strange energy, which could be printed on an oriental textile or decorate a ceramic.
*Extract of Clément Denis - Ut pictura poesis by Monique Riccardi Cubbitt, Ch. "Water as a matrix of the world"
By dint of their travels they have blended, melted and merged, thus unintentionally forming the sublime abstraction of their wanderings.
WINTER IS COMING
"As temperatures drop in eastern Europe, western attitudes to refugees cool." - Benedict Cooper
This excerpt from the 2015 article "With winter fast approaching the refugee crisis could become a medical disaster" published on Open Democracy fits well with the theme "Winter is coming ?" an hommage to the fear of the others symbolized by this well-known sentence extracted from Game of thrones movie.