Philippe Favier was born in 1957 in Saint-Étienne, France. He is an artist, painter and engraver. A graduate from the École des Beaux-Arts de Saint-Étienne in 1984, he exhibited for several years alongside the artists of the Figuration libre, a movement that was highly noticed in the early 1980s for defending an art with popular inspirations that stood out from the classical rules through the use of diverse materials and discordant colours. He lives and works in Châteaudouble, France.
Philippe Favier’s work, while inspired by this movement that is contemporary of him, is distinguished by his ability to constantly renew his plastic expression. Favoring a miniature scale, with certain grandiloquence characterizing the art of the time, he immerses himself in an imaginary world linked to photography, cinema and poetry, and borrows as much from everyday scenes as from the vast repertoire of art history, medieval macabre dances or exotic representations of orientalists. His works are also linked to a permanent process of collecting objects. Thus, Philippe Favier has gleaned old cards, catalogs, photographs and family albums that he reinvested and transformed.
In his early works, the artist used cut-out papers, enhanced with acrylic or colored pencils, and created scenes with historical or mythological accents. To this technique, he added the technique of cold enamel, which is still present today in his work. The supports of his works are transparent when he handles glass or opaque, with the use of slate or cardboard. He has composed series in which references to Bonnard and Matisse constitute tributes and winks to some of the great elders, all on the scale of a postcard. Lover of detail, he works as a goldsmith, chisels his figures and guilloches his backgrounds. He has rediscovered the patience of the illuminators, to the point of revisiting the mutinous and phantasmagorical convolutions of the medieval manuscripts.
What is striking, in view of the work accomplished during the two decades of creation, is the high coherence of the subject, the constant attempt to renew himself, and finally, the absolute sincerity of an extraordinary commitment. In today’s art, where these characteristics are constantly being undermined by more incisive or demonstrative forms, his work remains one of the most unique, authentic and engaging adventures led by an artist of his generation.
In 2004, Philippe Favier was invited by the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon to invest the exhibition spaces for more than a year, which gave rise to a vast cartographic installation entitled Géographie à l’usage des gauchers, evoking the notions of travel and exploration that recur in the artist’s work. In 2013, he presented a more photographic body of work at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. The exhibition NOIR… thus highlights a meticulous work of cut-out photographs, recomposed into paintings on a black or white background.
His works have been featured in solo shows at Art Bärtschi & CIE, now Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland), Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain de Nice (France), Musée de Grenoble (France), Bibliothèque Natioinale de France (Paris, France), Museum of Modern Art (Ankara, Turkey) and Halle Tony Garnier (Lyon, France), among others. Group shows include ones at the Fondation Bullukian/Musée Paul Dini (France), Galerie Guy Bärtschi, now Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland), Petit Palais de Paris (France), Bejing Art Biennale (China), Kiasma – Museum of Contemporary Art Helsinki (Finland), Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, Venice Biennale, and Museum of Modern Art California (USA). Philippe Favier’s works have been acquired by numerous French and foreign institutions in the United States, South Korea, Canada, Finland, Norway, and they feature in several private collections abroad.