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The new observer

Through  Véronique Cassarin-Grand

Denis Frémond's paintings are like the novels of Patrick Modiano. They have in common a familiar strangeness, an obsession with lost time, a nostalgia for an eternally recomposed happiness. One of the paintings on display is titled "La Ronde de nuit". At Frémond, space unfolds in elegant  penthouses  of Manhattan, villas of  the Amalfi Coast, the breweries of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Humans are rare there. We sometimes see a Gatsby at the back of a room, book or clarinet in hand. In another life, Denis Frémond studied in the entertainment world. Here he is the wonderful director of his intimate theater.

Hoppen  Gallery
By Stephanie Hoppen

His paintings have an inherent glamor, reminiscent settings favored by authors such as F Scott Fitzgerald. The environments he paints are intimate yet reflexive. They exude mystery; while these settings are recognizable - a villa on the Amalfi, a Parisian brasserie, a New York apartment - the circumstances are ambiguous. Cropped like movie stills, Fremond's compositions often feature a lone figure, not the subject of the  composition goal a fixture: a piece of furniture or a prop. Reminiscent of the great American painter Edward Hopper, there is a loaded sense of some impending action or drama as we are transported beyond the canvas and into the realm of their thoughts. His paintings are spacious and airy, with a restrained palette rendering the scenes peaceful and meditative. 

Contemporary Artists

By Guy Jacquemelle

Fascinating Denis Frémond. As much by the mystery which surrounds his course (impossible for example to find a biographical note worthy of the name on the web) as by this humor which he shows in the few interviews which he gave. And yet he maintains a very detailed diary on his blog. But this one is just as enigmatic. So this Sunday, January 7, 2007 he wrote: "Dream of this night: I am painting and a person standing to my left is reading to me passages from Rilke," Letters to a young poet ", I stop for try to find out where this voice comes from, because there is no one, I am alone in this large room, bigger than  in reality ... Outside, it is not about Paris, but a landscape of  countryside, flat, a few trees, wind turbines in the distance, the light noise of which propagates in the room like that of a clock, creating a tremendous feeling of calm ”. I like this mystery that surrounds Denis Frémond. We just know that he "came to painting late, after a detour to the theater, then to press cartoons, a period during which he published several books". But how beautiful his painting is. He paints with magic Interior and Exterior. He likes to capture these ephemeral atmospheres. As in Edward Hopper's paintings, his characters seem lonely. But unlike the American painter, loneliness here is not synonymous with sadness, just mystery ... 

Denis Frémond is a mysterious man. It is almost impossible to find a veritable biography, or an interview in which is answers contain any truth amidst the comedy and farce. The artist is an enigma and his ethereal oil painting too are perplexing.

Spacious and airy, they have a restrained palette rendering the scenes peaceful and meditative. The titles are often lengthy and cryptic, revealing the cerebral undertone in their reference to great authors, philosophers and composers.

Realist in style, the paintings have an atmosphere of introspection arising from a synthesis of cinematic ambience and painterly observation. Recalling the great American realist Edward Hopper, they are modern in their austerity but also full of nostalgia and a tension which prompts us to search for some covert symbolism.

Reflection and shadows contribute to the ambience and tone. The artist favors the golden hour before dusk, the crisp new light of dawn and the dense dark of midnight. Often amidst these shadows, is a solitary figure, a man inconspicuously occupying a small part of the canvas. His presence imposes a reflective calm and stillness to the works, yet also a gravitas. We detect a loaded sense of some impending action or drama. We cannot help but wonder about this figure, his thoughts, and who he might be. Is it the artist himself? His alter ego?

Whether walking, reading, playing the clarinet or reclining in an armchair - it is always the same man. Similary, the artist repeatedly revisits a select  few settings. A villa on the Amalfi Coast, a brasserie in  St-Germain, anelegant Manhattan penthouse - these landscape are recognizable and yet the circumstances are ambiguous. As great artists have done throughout history, the artist uses a particular scene to experiment with different seasons, times of day and light. Similary, in dreams our minds often revisit the same scenarios or locations time after time. Denis Frémond maintains a journal of his dreams published on his webside, and an excerpt suggests that we might interpret his paintings as dreamscapes illustrated.

May 5, 2012: Dream clearly set in one of my paintings, at the start of which I experience an inexplicable feeling of guilt. I approach an area more or less identifiable, where I find a bay window. The window is there, I touch it. At the moment when my hands touch it, it breaks. Then I feel the outside air, I hear the gentle waves of the sea, I see the beach in partial shadow.

Though his style is certainly realist, his paintings are peppered with the strange scenarios and unexpected juxtapositions of surrealism; a man standing on a diving board covered in snow or an ordinary school bag, dissected. Though cool in their austerity, they are not melancholy and a humility prevails. The lone figure is aloof and introspective, but never hostile. As in surrealism, there is something veiled in these works - something that cannot be understood and a sentiment of something lost. Denis Frémond is a pictorial poet, the eloquent tableaus elucidations of his dreams and involuntary memories.

Hoppen  Gallery

By Charlotte McInnes

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