Luis PORQUET, writer - art critic

Contemporary Hybridisations

The artistic approach to which Hervé Labrot adheres associates two passions: the practice of photography and that of painting. Very young, he was tempted by an artistic career, though this was met with a certain reluctance on the part of his parents. He therefore opted for technology, which conformed more closely to the vision people had for his future. Did the memory of his painter grandfather prevent him from turning his back on his wish? The fact remains that at the age of 28, he took lessons in a private school in Namur where he learnt the full importance of light, shadow and nuanced treatment of colour.

Let us hear his story:Let us hear his story:

"Vested with a job allowing me to earn a decent living (I worked for some time for the Cherbourg Naval Dockyard in a private company) I was nevertheless able to keep my independence. During all those years, photography was my breath of fresh air. I even participated in the construction of the nuclear plant in La Hague in a documentary capacity. It was this that led me to discover computer science, a tool which would open me up to new artistic perspectives… Having resumed lessons in painting and graphic design, I opted for an amalgam of photographic shots coupled with a graphics palette applied on canvas, the latter providing both resistance and lightness. With each subject I undertake, Martine, my wife, is my first critic. At first, I used watercolour paper. Canson and Arches, for example, developed an exceptionally brilliant white. In short, my work is based on photographs and then incorporates graphic design and painting to create a language of my own."

Yet in France, as everyone knows, people are suspicious of anything that appears atypical, hybrid or difficult to contain within a single category.
Hervé Labrot was not spared this prejudice and he admits to having many more exchanges with painters and other plastic artists than with actual photographers. English photographers, on the other hand, welcome what he does more willingly. His art represents no particular problem to them, which is no surprise. There is a fusion of elements within Labrot’s work which renders each technique relatively undetectable and therefore creates unrest for the spectator. The important thing for an artist is to have something to say, as Picasso highlighted. “It’s about creating feeling in others as well as in oneself,” adds Hervé Labrot, who owns to having a passion for Magritte, Dali, Miro and Enki Bilal. There is something about him that no doubt would have captured the attention of the surrealists, those great gamblers who liked to explode reality in order to let it express what it hides from us.

While he claims to be affiliated with the new critical figuration movement, Hervé Labrot could never be captive to overly narrow concepts. He speaks out as a maverick, casting a simultaneously incisive, detached and critical eye on today’s world. Aware of the benefits of progress, he also evaluates its limits, particularly in terms of ethics and behavioural norms. The perpetuation of our memory, spirit of resistance and moral conscience is vitally important for him, for they represent an intellectual heritage which must be preserved in the face of the steamroller that it limitless profit. Humanity would be doomed to inevitable disaster if a few honest and competent citizens did not raise their voices, to the detriment of social serenity at times. When you look closely at his highly colourful works, you notice that none of his themes are neutral. Faced with a society in which abundance ultimately asphyxiates freedom, he adopts the stance of watchman and lucid human, deciphering the occult part of messages that advertising, propaganda and financial imperialism convey to us each day like a toxic cloud. Everything takes place as though we were under permanent anaesthetic. Labrot’s pictures are there to shake us from our torpor.

André RUELLAN, art critic

Here is an artist who has been able to combine humour with originality: thwarted at an early age in his desire to receive artistic training, Hervé LABROT opted for architectural studies. But a trip to Belgium finally allowed him to take up art lessons and continue developing his passion for photography. Two decades later, at the beginning of this century, he would discover the possibilities of the digital technique and, inspired by his reflections, be able at last to implement all his related creative desires, that is to say photography, graphic design and colour.
Hence, after having presented the fruit of his work in Germany and the Benelux countries, Hervé LABROT finally exhibited in France, and more specifically in Lower Normandy. There, he captivated observers in salons and galleries with his vision, which is innovative and completely in keeping with the dynamic of a still new century. A vehement, socially conscious and universal style unfolds under the guise of delicious compositions that are in turn realist, ironic and daring. While handling computer techniques, the artist overturns visual codes and unleashes a vision of beings, places and things with caustic intelligence. He associates the appeal of the comic with the creative lampoon and demonstrates a rare visual power. His work is poetic, cutting and dramatic all at once. And yet it remains fascinating thanks to the exciting and miraculous dimension of this new art form, which this artist masters and executes with great talent.