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Biography

Jean-Bernard Métais has been creating for public art projects since the early 1980's. Most of his major works were commissioned by public institutions or developed for international competitions. His work can be found in both natural and urban settings.

His approach integrates many diverse elements. It all begins with the way the location stimulates his imagination.  “Making art in the public sphere,” says Métais, “means building a bond with a place and the people who live in it. My sculpting is essentially based upon the experimenting I do with the place I work in. The elements I bring into play are not an attempt to explain the location; they try to create a resonance, a sensorial bond between people and their environment.”

Métais' public art is both visual and conceptual. It is a specific response to each place, to each given situation. His artistic approach to sculpture begins with a formal construction, based on an interpretation of context, and responds to the location's physicality, its urban and architectural setting. 

Neither obscure nor intransigent, Métais' work emerges as a subtle balance of asserting a sculpture's presence in a location, while communicating with the surrounding elements of which it is composed. Building upon this formal approach, he uses the social and cultural life and history of the place as sources for his conceptual process.  The work resonates with the location, creating a symbolic yet tangible point of reference for its inhabitants. Métais often uses words to convey ideas that aim to reveal the location's function and unique character. The words he chooses, usually short, are significant for what they represent, but also for their expressiveness, imagery and poetic richness. This work with words also entails design research with the graphics themselves, to make them an integral part of the work's aesthetic dimension.

In Métais' work over the past twenty-five years, recurring themes can be seen:  the stable and the random, the fragility of the present instant.  He uses and mixes diverse materials without concern for whether they correspond to established techniques, from stainless steel to bronze, aluminium, glass and wood... but he also elaborates his work with sand, fire, water, wind, light and vegetation...  According to the needs of each individual project, he explores and experiments with the materials that are most apt to serve the work within its given context.

The construction stage is an important part of his work. For Métais, the sculptor's role does not end with the production of a blueprint. The actual making of the piece is of the utmost importance to him. The technical team Métais has been collaborating with for many years now is tight-knit and professionally solid, ensuring him total mastery of his projects.

Herve-Armand BECHY, June 2008




1954
Born in Le Mans, France

1970-1977
School of Fine Arts, Le Mans and Paris
History of Art, Louvre Museum

1978
Travels in the deserts of South Morocco and Mauritania
First observation of sounds produced by the movement of sand dunes
Creates workshops in Courdemanche (La Sarthe) and Ozenay (Burgundy)

1981-1985
First creation of the Equinox and Immersed Pieces Series, monumental
works in natural or urban
settings relating to the sun – Formentera, Spain
Takes charge of the family winery in Jasnieres, France
Orixas and the Forest (DRAC grant) – extensive travel in the Amazon,
Brazil
Travels in India, Jaipur and the desert of North India
Equinox and Immersed Pieces Series – monumental works in Creteil and
Montpelier

1985 - 2012: Public Collections and Commissions
Duality Eu, France
Fluorescence Kumamoto, Japan
Create Yourself in the World Beijing, China
Fisherman of Light Bergen, Norway
The Letter Euqueurdreville, France
Allotted Time II Le Mans, France.
Alliance St Davids2, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Clepsydra Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, Levallois, France
The Wave Luxembourg city, Luxembourg
Valenciennes Valenciennes, France
Walking Through Walls Luxembourg city, Luxembourg
The Halo Porte Maillot, Paris, France
Word-Being Regional Archives, La Sarthe, France
Vibrant Boa, Brussels, Belgium
Word-Being Belleville sur Rhône, France
La Chambre de Phaistos Le Creusot, France
Allotted Time-Eclipse Jardin des Plantes, National Museum of Natural
History, Paris. France
Avalanche, Landslide and Allotted Time Series La Villette,
Cité des Sciences, Paris, France
The Door of Sahel Dakar, Senegal

2000 - 2012: Solo Exhibitions and Projects
The Ring Middle Dock, London, England
Time and Landscapes Universal Expo 2000, French Pavilion, Hanover,
Germany
Retrospective, “Works in Sand” Le Mans, France
SGBL 50 Years of Innovation Beirut, Lebanon
Pollen – London, England
Passage Bordeaux, France
Immersion Queensbridge, London, England
Two-Headed Vancouver, Canada.
Pescator Park, Wall Passage Luxembourg city, Luxembourg
An Anthropological Structure of the Imaginary Strasbourg, France
Allotted Time Galerie Baudoin Lebon, Paris, France
Promenade Road Port of Dublin, Ireland
Creating Knowledge Palais de la Découverte, Paris, France
Allotted Time The Cartier Foundation, Jouy-en-Josas, France
Works on Kepler’s 8 Artist Residency, Berlin, Oberkirchen, Germany
Allotted Time Utopia Park, Los Angeles, USA
Dispossession Beirut, Lebanon
irreversible Allotted Time Torino, Italy
Group Exhibitions and Artist Residencies
Secret Garden Ivry-sur-Seine, France
1.2.3 Sun – Eclipse Chamber Donjon de Vez, France
The Sun at its Zenith Perth, Australia
Pierre and Marie Curie Jussieu, Paris, France
FRAC Loire Valley Fontevraud, France
The Cartier Foundation, Artist Residency, Jouy-en-Josas, France
Galerie Froment-Putman Paris, France
Irreversible Time Goshi Gaya, Japan
Orixas and the Forest (DRAC grant) Brazil
Men in the Forest Lubumbashi, DR Congo


RECENT WORK AND EXHIBITIONS 2012 - 2016

2012
Polyphony - public commission, Vitry-sur-Seine (France)
Phoenix - carte blanche commission, Jurong (China)
2142 Jurong - carte blanche commission, Jurong (China)
Spinning Wave - project, Bordeaux (France)
Grand Memorial - project, Lorette (France)
Architect Art Work - Grand Hall de la Villette - Paris 2012

2013
Jurong 2142 - Jurong (China)
Phoenix - Jurong (China)
Silk Dragon - Jurong (China)
Face to Face - Lyon (France)
Passions-partagées (Shared Passions) - Group exhibition,
Château de Poncé, Poncé-sur-le-Loir, Sarthe, France
As of 2013, represented in France and Belgium by
La Galerie Vieille du Temple. Marie-Hélène de La Forest Divonne

2014
Sensorial Room / Jurong 2142 - Jurong (China)
Phoenix-Oriflamme - Tianjin (China)
Vortex - Jurong (China)

2014-2015
Solo exhibition - Galerie Vieille du Temple.
Marie-Hélène de La Forest Divonne, Paris
Art Paris Art Fair 2015 - Grand Palais, Paris
Red Sun - Changra (China)
Wind Organ - Nanjing (China)
Undertaking - Bordeaux (France)
The Clock - Le Havre (France)
Margot - private collection / 2ème étude (Luxembourg)

2016
Stratification of the Invisible - with Guy de Malherbe,
Château de Poncé, Poncé-sur-le-Loir, Sarthe, France
Jean-Bernard Métais lives and works in Paris and Sarthe.
Since 2012, he represents Studio Métais in Jurong and Shanghai, China.

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