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Interview with Charles Le Hyaric

1- As part of the programme Habiter le lieu , you are redeploying the piece Peulven, conceived in 2014, at the Château de Valmer. What made you interested in this place?

Several things. First of all its 500 year old history, the presence of the disappeared castle, the troglodytic chapel, the layout of the place in several terraces perhaps sketched by a certain Leonardo da Vinci... Gargoyles that come out of the walls when you walk in the moat. It is a magical place, its soul is very present. And above all, the place lives on, thanks to the strength and energy of the Countess of Saint Venant. Her imprint is very strong. We are not in a relic of a time that has stopped, but in a space that continues to exist.

2- The creation of in situ works is recurrent in your work. Here, it is not really a new creation in situ, because you redeploy this work under another configuration, but how did you conceive it? Is it a way for you to give it a new life?

Yes, my work always seeks to be in cohesion with the place. At Valmer Castle, I want to interact with the fountain in the pond located in the vegetable garden. The water will marry the organic forms of each piece of the work. As is often the case when I set up my pieces in situ, I have intuitions, but it is when I am confronted with the reality of the elements that the piece definitively takes its shape and its way of existing. There is always the unexpected, which is what makes this type of project stimulating. You have to know how to listen to the place and accept that you can’t always control everything. You have to find the right balance. It may be that the interaction of the water with the ceramics gives life to the appearance of plants, that the sound of the water on the sculpture creates what I call a soundscape. The mirror of the water will also create a plastic game. A harmony made of several links must be found so that the sculpture can find a sensitive and singular existence.

3- And why did you choose this particular space in the vegetable garden? And how does it interact with the surrounding space?

After visiting the site, there were several possibilities. But it soon became clear to me that the vegetable garden and in particular the pond in the central alley was the ideal location. Peulven (menhir in Breuton) is a sculpture that takes the silhouette of a menhir, it stands vertically in the landscape and creates a link between the world of the earth and the beyond, a link with the history of the place and the men who inhabited it.
Its symbolism opens the doors to a metaphysical world, it invokes spectres, an elsewhere both past and present, here and elsewhere. Its organic form will, I hope, play as much as possible with the living world of the vegetable garden. I want it to be anchored in the place, as if the piece had always been there, and at the same time I want the spectator to question its origin and meaning.
I am also interested in not revealing the room directly when you arrive at the site. The plans were drawn up in such a way that the last level, the vegetable garden, is not visible from the highest point. The room invites itself to the Valmer estate with a certain discreteness.

4- In this sculpture there is both something raw and organic, but also a form of preciousness, how do you reconcile these two aspects that may seem antagonistic?

Exactly. These are recurring terms in my work. I’m always looking for a balance between a certain preciousness, a delicate appearance and a process, a more raw, primitive action. I often say that the points of tension that inhabit the essence of my work are the duality between nature and culture, thought and instinct. For Peulven each fragment is made in a very rough and delicate way. I take a piece of clay and slam it on the ground to obtain a flat form. This gesture is very precise, it takes a little time to master it because clay is very sensitive, and the earth can tear very easily. And when the piece is cracked you can’t use it again, otherwise there is a strong chance that it will burst during the firing, especially because of the air bubbles. Once the flat shape is obtained, I throw it away and create the most fluid shape possible. This is the contradiction and the magic of this material.
Then I don’t touch it anymore and I let it dry, then I fire it. I then repeat this gesture on each fragment, creating a fossilised skin, organic mineral, almost alive, when they are placed side by side.