Kevin Francis Gray in dialogue with Jean Cocteau at Villa Santo Sospir
Kevin Francis Gray (b. 1972, Northern Ireland) has generated bodies of work which address the complex relationship between abstraction and figuration. His work will be on view at Villa Santo Sospir in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France, from 16 September to 31 October 2017 in an exceptional exhibition.
The exhibition will feature a selection of sculptures by Kevin Francis Gray, realized in the artist’s studio in Pietrasanta, Italy, in dialogue with the architecture and interiors of the legendary Villa Santo Sospir which is a listed building. With splendid views over the Mediterranean Sea, the historical Villa hosted Jean Cocteau and Édouard Dermit in 1950. Used as a location for Cocteau’s film Testament of Orpheus (1960), the house is decorated with murals both by him and his close friend Pablo Picasso.
Gray’s striking marble sculptures boldly recall the first steps of his creative process, which begins in clay-work and is subsequently translated into marble: the marks of the artist’s hands, fingers and tools are visible and palpable, giving the illusion that the stone is as malleable as the initial clay sculpting. Here are the works of an artist entering a new era -one of boldness and assertiveness, ready to challenge his own understanding of the stone’s possibilities. The male and female reclining figures that come out of his poetic inspiration emerge stronger than before, and resonate with Cocteau’s landmark drawings.
Cocteau, famous for his writing and films including his one-act scenario of Parades, a ballet composed between 1916 and 1917 for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes with music by Erik Satie and set design by Pablo Picasso, had a sustained interest in movement, physicality and characters, recurring themes in Gray’s oeuvre. Like Cocteau’s work, Gray’s strong bodies and expressive gestures aim to transcend the natural and the material in both form and subject matter, seeking to render a physical beauty and perfection that is not reached in the temporal world.
Images: Loïc Thébaud Photographer