Jean-Marie Bytebier


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The Fontevraud Museum of Modern Art has issued a Rendez-vous to the Belgian artist Jean-Marie Bytebier to display his paintings and drawings, both within the Museum’s permanent collections and in the old presbytery in the village of Fontevraud-l’Abbaye. In other words, two different exhibition spaces – one in a museum display and the other in a domestic setting with 18th century woodwork – are being opened for the artist to hang his works, some of which were specially created for this show during an artist residency at Fontevraud in December 2023. Rendez-vous is all about dialogue and intersecting gazes. Bytebier’s paintings and drawings are inspired by photographs and impressions captured on hikes, as well as references to the art history. In preparation for this exhibition, the artist spent a few weeks in residence at Fontevraud. That time gave him the chance to soak in the atmosphere, the architectural backdrop and the shapes and colours all around him, and also to study the Museum’s permanent collection. Jean-Marie Bytebier reworks sections of paintings from Western art, which he transforms using (re)framing processes. In this way, he transfigures original pieces, causing them to convey new messages. His paintings and drawings combine different timeframes on the same plane (a canvas or a sheet of paper). This Rendez-vous is also extended to its spectators, whose gazes are solicited in the here and now. Jean-Marie Bytebier’s paintings walk a fine line between abstract and figurative art. A sense of back-and-forth movement is produced using zoom and framing effects. And viewers are caught up in that movement, allowing them to decipher the structure of the pictorial compositions presented to them and to identify what is enclosed by the frame and what has broken free from it. The way Jean-Marie Bytebier revisits landscapes – by selecting details, enlarging them, flipping motifs, erasing the horizon, scratching or cropping certain sections and so on – encourages spectators to reconsider their perceptions of their own environments and gain an understanding of how artists construct their images.