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Lydie Arickx, a telluric artist in exhibition

The first time I saw the work of Lydie Arickx was in Dominique Polad Hardouin’s gallery. I already knew her work, but only from photos in the contemporary art magazine AZART, which was already breathtaking, but certainly nothing compared to the real work.

Dominique had large canvases of Lydie Arickx that she unrolled like a carpet. I couldn’t help but think that it wasn’t very careful, but Lydie Arickx’s creations are definitely works that can stand up to the test! This daughter of a Flemish mason who immigrated to the southwest of France has always known how to make the material speak.

Where to start to talk about the one of whom the art critic Christian Noorbergen says “Lydie Arickx reigns over the heights”

(Artension, Hors série N°23 Mars 2018 L’expressionnisme aujourd’hui)

Painter and sculptor, and more and more sculptor and painter, Lydie Arickx knew to create a work out of standards.

Lydie Arickx exhibits a titanic work at the castle of Biron

How could this little woman invest with so much creative energy this Perigordian fortress and its almost 2000 m2 with more than 500 works?

It is a titanic work that we had the privilege to discover on May 11, 2019. 

The visit of the exhibition is commented by the duo Lydie Arickx and Jean-Claude Ameisen (doctor and author of the radio program on France Inter “On the shoulders of Darwin”).

“Tant qu’il y aura des ogres” –  2018-2019

le petit poucet

First meeting with Lydie Arickx at Biron

This May 11, 2019, after a first visit of the exhibition in the morning and a lunch at the inn of the castle, we waited in the courtyard of the castle of Biron that the visit begins. At about 14H00, a crowd is formed…

We went there and discovered in the center a very small woman dressed in a big black and grey coat. In her sixties, with hair that we guessed to be short under a strange hat, and enormous round blue and red glasses. 

This is how Lydie Arickx appeared to us, a telluric artist by her creations and her personality.

All afternoon, Lydie Arickx, tireless, leads us through the exhibition. We cross the rooms, the floors, the staircases, the courtyards, the gardens, the basements of this immense castle that she had no difficulty to live with the precious help of her spouse and her son. Between them, they form a trio that is always ready to tackle any challenge.

Lydie Arickx, from tiny to gigantic

The exhibition is a pure wonder. We are captivated by the outdoor works such as “L’autoportrait”, this immense spider with a female head that watches over the visitors, “La harpie”, this sculpture made of cement and vine stocks that stands watch over the valley. 

We discover this gigantic wolf which carries on its knees the little red riding hood, “The little thumb” this enormous hand with raised thumb with beside the little thumb or “The border of silence” this head of bronze with the deformed face which is installed above the entry of the castle…

The works presented indoors are equally breathtaking with an incredible variety of media such as paintings, sculptures, assemblages, ceramics, books, chairs, metal cut-outs or skins. 

They range from tiny works like these faces painted on tiny feathers, leaves and flowers, to gigantic works like this man walking on the ceiling or this huge necklace of ceramic heads.

They are often part of an ensemble such as “The belly of the forest” which is an immense group of florescent works presented in a room with the shutters closed or like these marvelous “Family portraits” painted on reproductions of works by Flemish masters.

"She paints, she sculpts. She dances. She climbs scaffolding. Her hands plunge into a world in the making and withdraw from it, and plunge back into it and escape from it, before drowning in it and disappearing from it."
Jean-Claude Ameisen
Doctor, researcher, author

The creations of Lydie Arickx express suffering, life and death

The thread of this exhibition is as much the ogres as childhood because ogres, we know, hurt children. Throughout “Tant qu’il y aura des ogres”, we perceive the suffering of children but the artist also let us guess the suffering of ogres themselves when they know they are monsters.

The parallel with the famous painting of the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya “Saturn devouring one of his sons” (Prado Museum, Madrid) is obvious. Goya paints the titan Saturn (Chronos for the Greeks) eating one of his sons so that he does not take his place as king of the titans. 

The atrocity of this scene is amplified by the deformation of the face of the titan who seems horrified by his destructive impulse which leads him to devour his own children.

"Saturne dévorant un de ses fils", Goya, 1819-1823

extraits de “Le ventre de la forêt”, ensemble d’oeuvres fluorescentes

The paroxysm of this childish suffering is reached in the basement of the castle, where Lydie Arickx has chosen to install the kitchen of the ogre with a little girl prisoner in the cage. It is terrifying.

In the work of Lydie Arickx, the death drive and the life drive constantly intersect.

When Yves Kneusé asks her “Is there a pleasure, a necessity to put on the canvas such hard subjects”, Lydie answers “but I can’t do otherwise”. 

in “Lydie Arickx, Oublier qu’on peint”, éditions Gourcuff Gradenigo

Where I meet Lydie Arickx in a totally unexpected way

The day after the exhibition, we decided to take the small roads around the castle of Biron and to stop in the village of Villereal. There was a flea market under the old covered market, the town was full of people. Sitting on the sidewalk in the sun, I was drawing some old houses when a car pulled up and plunged me into the shadow. Displeased, I get up to change places when, from the car, a tiny woman in a big black and grey coat gets out… Lydie Arickx! Immediately, I approach her. 

She laughed to see me so excited about our chance meeting and gave me a drawing on the first page of my sketchbook and a round of laughter! 

Lydie Arickx tout sourire dans son atelier devant une de ses grandes peintures
Lydie Arickx nous salue

photos Artistes Actuels

The editorial team

The editorial team

Pleasure and emotion of artistic discoveries