“Enfeus” and “Monde-Femme”

An infernal Drift

Somewhere in a church in the French region of Brittany, the skulls of deceased parishers rest in a funerary recess (enfeu), each one isolated in its own shrine.  Jean-Michel FICHOT, a sculptor born in 1959 and winner of the 1989 Jean Arp prize, has set himself the goal of restoring these dead souls to life by making plaster clusters of the pathetically aligned heads, giving them a bronze patina, and enclosing them in a transparent casket in the manner of a somewhat cruel entomologist. They are many of these tragically lonely faces shouting their terror, distorted to anamorphosis, sucked into an infernal drift, and gradually shrinking until they seem in danger of vanishing. Their wide-open mouths gasp for a final breath, their features frozen in an agony of a merciless distortion.

But lo!  The tornado torturing these distorted faces now calms to a breeze that caresses the bronze finish of the female figures. This amazing contrast leads us to consider a completely different aspect of his work: voluptuous bowed figures filled with a modern vine-like grace, with female figures standing erect in a vital and triumphant sensuality, powerful goddesses and mothers that have come to symbolize the fecundity of an ancient Venus, as well as cheerful nymphs gathered and dancing in Carpeaux style groups. With their faces barely suggested and lines intentionally simplified to underline postures, femininity is omnipresent.

Whether working with plaster or with bronze, this young sculptor’s mastery is quite remarkable.  His Œuvre is at once classical and expressionist, and the quality of his emotion conveys with the same intensity two essential driving forces shared by all mankind: the angst of a beyond of suffering and the fulfilment of the flesh.

Mireille Sueur 1988