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by Didier Hamey

The Les Bonshommes series began at Casa de Velasquez in 2016.

The 32-page catalog presents the entire series of drypoint engravings.

16x23cm format, on 70 g Munchen paper.

"Is it possible to give form to the invisible? One would think otherwise. Only a poet who has imagined a new form of sculpture could ineffably rise to the challenge. In his sculptures and engravings, Didier Hamey strives to capture the unseen connections that secretly animate the world. He claims to "engrave all that is not grave", and such modesty is part of his charm. Subtle and ethereal, he has no predecessors; he feels his way through a singular space as if to brush against that which, at the same time, escapes him what cannot be seen and what cannot be grasped.

This he achieves with energy, force and finesse, controlling as such the uncontrollable. He arrives at a sort of arborescence, a continuous branching that extends into space. This natural phenomenon, of the vegetal realm, belongs also to nature's other kingdoms. From a distance, his sculptures remind one of Japanese bonsai trees. His engravings likewise emerge from the enigmatic traces of the seemingly unknown. This is a craft that unites the hand and the mind. He achieves in a manner ever so patient another form of beauty, an unusual beauty for the most part, of balance and poise.

At times, his work evokes marine flora swaying in the depths of the sea. Another world breaks through the surface revitalized and renewed. At times, it evokes more fanciful figures like gangly puppets or the improvised flight of bees among the flowers. (NOTE FROM TRANSLATOR: VIRUSES AND UNEXPECTED ANTIVIRUSES ARE INCONGRUOUS IN ENGLISH WITH THE NOTION OF MOTION) Didier Hamey refers to his collection of sculptures as an "old curiosity shop," as if he were the collector of these infinitely fragile objects, which inhabit his presence and haunt him, fascinating him and breathing into him new life.

A small sculpture on wheels, Hercules, which resembles a bird, is perhaps a symbolic self-portrait of the artist: it can move forward or backward, it can lean back or reach forward. But foremost, it can move, in contrast to all the other statues. This Hercules, however, makes no pretence of being able to clean the Augean stables or collapse the columns of the Temple. In reference to himself, Didier Hamey says with humor that the person who is an artist, by virtue of a seeming feebleness, can symbolize something that is independent compared to all systems of dependence.

Violence removed from the most gentle of gentleness: in a murderous world, a world of Terror, the celebration of fragility implies a struggle against all forms of brutality, every crime committed by humanity on the earth, on the seas, in the air and beyond.

He may not say so. I, however, cannot help but think as much, in terms of all that is being done today in the name of "art."

Yet to dwell on all that would be to betray his need for reticence and removal, to betray the distance that he willingly takes with respect to the world of facts and events. That is something I cannot do.

On the other hand, I can allow myself to say that what he has accomplished could not have been done except in that realm of silence where he abides. It's about strategy, where cunning is involved, and voluntary exile far from the world's clamor and bombast.

It is a work realized under the magnifying glass where the microscopic mirrors the macroscopic. It is the work of a researcher as humble as he is attentive and vigilant. It is the work of a poet patiently waiting for all that is possible. It is the work of a miner diligently tunneling away. And it is the work of a sage hidden among the madding crowd.

Didier Hamey's cabinet of curiosities will be dispersed one day or another, sadly so. It is already time to think about a catalog in a book that might be entitled: A Few Little Secrets about the World. But before such an undertaking, let us leave him, in grateful silence, with time to collect even more treasures."

- Alain Jouffroy