Un grain de moutarde, 2020
Guillaume Dégé is incontestably a major figure in the constellation of graphic artists participating in a specific trend in contemporary drawing. From the field of illustration, he has stuck to his principles of economy in his use of the page and in his drawing. His clarity of thought and the purity of his lines are immediately apparent on paper. There is however, no more use of text. “As an artist, I have no idea of how to tell a tale and I don’t believe in storytelling. I believe in the way things are done.” There are no pages to turn either. The drawing can finally be alone, majestically positioned on its support.
Dégé’s drawings are phantasmagorical inventions based on images extracted from the real world. They act as dreamlike extensions of the domain popular culture. The artist has collected a vast library of images that feeds his drawing practice and invites itself onto the page through his use of collage. Ancient engravings come together with colored pencil to create exquisite corpses, laced with surrealism: horses with plants as heads, religious figures impregnated by watercolor, birds with noses and sexual organs. His works are acts of vandalism, perpetrated in the name of the imaginary and carried out in delicate colors, capable of transforming rocks into waves or walls of fire.
This trilingual publication in French, English and Chinese, enriched with contributions from well-known art historians (Laurence Schmidlin, Fabrice Hergott) and artist friends (Julien Carreyn, Ye Xin), presents the reader with a broad panorama of Guillaume Dégé’s artistic practice.
With the participation of:
- Julien Carreyn, born in 1973, is a French artist living in Paris. His practice involves a wide variety of mediums including drawing, photography, artist's books, film, etc.
- Fabrice Hergott, born in 1961, is a French museum curator and art historian. He has been the Director of the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris since 2006.
- Laurence Schmidlin, born in 1982, is an art historian and museum curator, specializing in drawings and prints. She is a contemporary curator art at the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts of Lausanne (CH) since 2017.
- Ye Xin, born in 1953 in Beijing, is a Chinese painter, engraver and calligrapher. He lives in Paris and is a lecturer at Paris VIII University.
Born in 1967, Guillaume Dégé began by studying Chinese at the Langues O’ School in Paris where he acquired a reputation as a distinguished Sinologist. Co-founder in 1994, with Daniel Vincent (alias Tom de Pékin), of the publishing house Les 4 Mers, he is also a discerning collector of images, antique alphabet primers and prints, which he uses to feed his practice of drawing and collage.
Since the publication of his first book, Un artiste à monter chez soi in 1993, Guillaume Dégé has written over thirty works published by amongst others Seuil and Gallimard. During his life as an illustrator that preceded that of an artist, he was commissioned by the Comic Opera in Paris as well as the MAC/VAL and regularly worked for the newspaper Le Monde over a period of ten years. His drawings have also appeared in several press publications such as Libération, Beaux-arts Magazine, La Tribune, etc.
Guillaume Dégé taught at the Haute École des Arts du Rhin in Strasbourg for nearly fifteen years, where he directed the illustration department and in 2019, he was appointed to the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Over the years, he has trained generations of artists, graphic designers and illustrators. He has also been a teacher and associate professor at the Xi’an academy of Fine Arts in China since 2015.
Guillaume Dgé has enjoyed exhibitions at amongst other venues, the Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard, Paris (FR) and the Musée de Sérignan (FR) and his works are included in the collections of the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg (FR), the Haute-Normandie and Ile-de-France FRACs and the CNAP, Paris (FR). In his role as an exhibition curator, he organised “Dessins Pointus” at the Halle Saint-Pierre in 2004 and “Doré and Friends” at Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg (FR) in 2014.