Les tableaux de Denis Frémond sont à l'image des romans de Patrick Modiano. Ils ont en commun une familière étrangeté, une obsession du temps (é)perdu, la nostalgie d'un bonheur éternellement recomposé. L'une des toiles exposées est d'ailleurs titrée "la Ronde de nuit". Chez Frémond, l'espace se déploie dans d'élégants penthouses de Manhattan, des villas de la côte amalfitaine, des brasseries de Saint-Germain-des-Prés. L'humain y est rare. On aperçoit parfois un Gatsby au fond d'une pièce, livre ou clarinette à la main. Dans une autre vie, Denis Frémond a étudié dans le monde du spectacle. Il est ici le merveilleux metteur en scène de son théâtre intime.

(Véronique Cassarin-Grand, Le Nouvel Observateur)

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His paintings have an inherent glamour, reminiscent settings favoured by authors such as F Scott Fitzgerald. The environments he paints are intimate yet reflexive. They exude mystery; while these settings are recognisable – 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 but 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.

(Stephanie Hoppen)

 

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Fascinant Denis Frémond. Tant par le mystère qui entoure son parcours (impossible par exemple de trouver une notice biographique digne de ce nom sur la toile) que par cet humour dont il fait preuve dans les quelques interviews qu’il a données. Et pourtant il tient à jour sur son blog un journal très détaillé. Mais celui-ci est tout aussi énigmatique. Ainsi ce dimanche 7 janvier 2007 écrit-il : «Rêve de cette nuit : je suis en train de peindre et une personne se tenant à ma gauche me lit des passages de Rilke, "Lettres à un jeune poète", je m'interromps pour tenter de savoir d'où vient cette voix, car il n'y a personne, je suis seul dans cette grande pièce, plus grande que dans la réalité... Dehors, il ne s'agit pas de Paris, mais d'un paysage de campagne, plat, quelques arbres, des éoliennes dans le lointain, dont le bruit léger se propage dans la pièce comme celui d'une pendule, y instaurant une prodigieuse sensation de calme». J’aime bien ce mystère qui entoure Denis Frémond. On sait juste qu’il «est venu tard à la peinture, après un détour par le théâtre, puis par le dessin de presse, période au cours de laquelle il a publié plusieurs livres». Mais que sa peinture est belle. Il peint avec magie Intérieur et Extérieur. Il aime à capter ces atmosphères éphémères. Comme dans les tableaux d’Edward Hopper, ses personnages semblent seuls. Mais à la différence du peintre américain, la solitude n’est pas ici synonyme de tristesse, juste de mystère…

(Guy Jacquemelle, Les Artistes Contemporains)

 

 

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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 favours 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, an elegant Manhattan penthouse – these landscape are recognisable 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.

5 Mai 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.

(Charlotte McInnes)