[…] That frontier between abstraction and figuration is also to be found in your most recent sculptures, which, nowadays, remind one of plants.

They are allegories of nature, close to a symbolization of its sensual texture, based on touch, form and rhythm. At first, it arose from a wish to get closer to the natural world, to its essential components. And what particularly interested me was quite literally to position myself between abstraction and figuration, like in my torsoes, in fact. That explains why each flower, each plant, has a symbolic, metaphorical shape, simultaneously recalling a corolla, a leaf, a pistil….Therefore it is an invocation, a symbol for the awareness of a need for nature and the fascination it exerts. I am not remotely interested in representing either a specific flower or plant, identifiably so. It would not be fascinating in any way. I far prefer this relationship between shapes, that interplay along the borders and evocations leaving the viewer that much freer. Basically, I invoke nature without representing it.

"Lutte dans le sillage", 1996, Belgian Blue Stone and diamond disc, 23 x 30 x 14 cm
La Petite Mannequin, 1996, Tavel's stone, private collection

Why do you mostly use spirals to represent these plant forms ?


“Vrille I”, 2004, Belgian Blue Stone, 21 x 44 x 13 cm

Quite simply because it is a basic shape, as much in the plant as in the animal world. I chose it to outline the upward path of the living being seeking light. Inside the spiral, I enjoy progressing by playing with the furrows, waviness, variations in openings, crevasses, outlining their veins with the disk. At first, the curved approach revolved around a vertical axis, then I narrowed that axis to endow the spiral shape with more life, more movement and thus make it dance. At the same time, I also increased the base’s volume, like a metaphor for a belly. Then I lengthened, pulled out the support-basis, it began to look like a stalk on which I placed a spiraled corolla and pistil to recall flora. But once again, what mostly intrigues me is simply to suggest plant life, without any specific references. Recently, I have taken to laying down the spiral, I place it horizontally to see it differently in space and increase the diversity of viewing angles. […]

extracts from the interview with Henri-François Debailleux, art critic