Muriel Lhermet is a French abstract painter whose work takes as its subject matter the creation of beauty, an essential factor in art. She explores the notion of abstraction and the complexity of the relationship between colour and line, background and form, chromatics and light. Her work has evolved over the past 20 years as though removed from the influence of the outside world; her painting has a timeless quality, unaffected by changing fashions and imbued with silence and introspection. Reminiscent of Russian or American painters of the post-war period such as Poliakoff and Rothko, her canvases, which are created flat on the floor, could be said to run counter to current trends.
Her work resembles a kind of quest: a search for light, through the direct confrontation of opposites, of light and dark, of the brilliance of shimmering colours and the depth of muted tones which absorb our gaze. An interest in architecture, archaeology and ancient remains led her initially to make models of ruins with powdery materials such as sand, ash and natural pigments.
After graduating from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse in 1995, she discovered coloured pigments, their powdery texture, chromatic power and luminosity. Deciding to use the pigments as a raw material in their own right, she stopped creating works in relief and developed her own technique over the years. The challenge was to preserve the qualities of the pigment, to overcome its fragile, powdery nature and create works that would physically stand the test of time.
Composed of fine layers of pigment laid onto a base of oil paint, which serves as a medium, this meticulous process of sedimentation creates depth, chromatic vibration and a particular velvety texture, all of which make Muriel Lhermet’s paintings unique and instantly recognizable.
The invisible layers beneath the surface create the necessary density upon which the artist can lay the final powdered pigments which will bring light to the surface of the canvas. As light touches the pigments, and changes according to the time of day, it draws out the matt, mineral aspect of the greys or, on the contrary, magnifies the luminescence of the blues.
These blues compose limbos, ovoid or geometric spaces, otherworlds which could be described as otherblues as they play with the variations of light. Light is an essential component of the painting, both that which falls onto the canvas and that which is generated by the colour itself, as though emerging from within the painting.
The artist first structures the canvas with colour and then by line, as in a form of abstract writing. This ground plan infuses each piece of work with the vital energy of its inner world. Lhermet’s painting is not completely abstract or conceptual, rather it addresses the perception and imagination of the onlooker. She creates a poetic reality, made of structure, shapes and movement.
In this way, human forms can appear as shadows cast onto a rocky landscape or as silhouettes moving under the moon.
Perhaps, in this space between the abstract and the figurative, we can glimpse what Gilles Deleuze called the "sub-representative zone", which he saw as the true space of creation.