EXHIBITION FROM DECEMBER 11th 2015 until JANUARY 16th 2016

Stew, the perfect exile

Stew already chose his inner country some years ago. Japan captured the deepest reaches of his dream imagery. Kabuki masks, febrile lovers and enigmatic warriors found their way into his collages, frescos and paintings. Dragons and samurai summon a faraway imaginary world. One of his recurrent characters is Jizo, a protective creature, guardian of the temple, who is the benevolent mascot of Stew’s world. The artist draws on the engravings he tracks down. From them he retains the delicacy of the patterns, the seductiveness of characters with an ambiguous, deliberately androgynous identity. There is a preference for flowing gestures and elegant poses, suspended and timeless. Perhaps too the power of scenes voided of depth, by broad flat surfaces heightened by dark borders, which make them all the more striking. He reinvents the subtle weaves of kimonos and other refined fabrics, working his backgrounds with careful attention to graceful details. Not without some humour, for instance, when he plays with his now familiar portrait gallery, moving and reinventing it, to the point of adding Elvis’ quiff to one of his Rising Sun silhouettes. Or he will even use newspapers from the archipelago as material for his creation.

He has not yet explored the real Japan. He is waiting for the right moment, aware that great encounters are not decreed, but take their time.

Pending this takeoff, clouds of birds in increasingly vivid colours invade his works, gaining the forefront. One of the most decisive in his career is an immense blue heron, 52 metres tall, on a wall of the thirteenth district of Paris, paving the way to all other daring innovations! Winged creatures multiply with the stencils, there again drawing on a meticulous iconography that he recomposes at will, from the hummingbird to the phoenix. Coming from second generation Parisian graffiti, Stew has undoubtedly kept the flair for instant creation, the confidence in the gesture that leaps out and which now blooms in waves of joyful, hypnotic colours.

Sophie Pujas