Predestined by his surname to work with nature, this Nice artist offers us a poetic rereading of gardens by means of sculptures and temporary installations. Shunning galleries, Henri Olivier's artworks are always created in situ with the intention of revealing the beauty of their setting. Drawing on his dual experience as artist and landscape designer, he has left his mark on numerous places such as the Serre de la Madone gardens in Menton, where he installed specular writing that reflects the light. "The lead letters placed on the ground give food for thought and encourage you to discover a superb panorama over this octagonal Eden with its many ponds. Here the challenge was to insinuate myself into the landscape without altering the unity built up by Johnston, the aim being to create an artwork that acted as a pointer rather than adding something new." His artistic vocabulary turns on the notions of line, horizon, reflection and shadow, but the latter is the true leitmotiv running through his work. "I had a revelation, if you like, when I discovered Tanizaki, a Japanese author of the 1930s. I understood that in Japanese culture, entering the shadows is the best way of reaching to the heart of things. Something I've been doing ever since in each of my pieces by playing with the light." You can see his exhibition Parcours de l’Ombre (Exploring Shadow), a reflection on beauty and an invitation to philosophise, at the Chagall Museum until 30 April.
By Marjorie Modi