Stéphane Guiran is a poet who transforms his dreams into delicate sculptures or dreamlike scenes which transport their viewers into a deep, peaceful elsewhere.
He designed his piece in situ for the Lower Le Fenil Gallery, where he uses image and sound to exalt the grace and echoes of the elms trees reborn through his work.
“Elm trees lived for more than sixty million years before encountering man. In just a few centuries, Man made the Elm his faithful companion. A confidant, a guardian. He entrusted his village squares to the tree, made it the face of his boulevards, the skin of his roads, the pride of his parks. The Elm even cared for his injuries and heartbreaks. It was the voice of justice, the bark that healed, the place that gave peace. Man and the Elm were so close to each other that when Man stumbled at the beginning of the 20th century, the Elms also fell ill. Diagnosed in 1919, the first epidemic of Dutch elm disease killed millions of elms at the same time that World War I and the Spanish Flu were killing millions of Men.
The 20th century passed, and Men made the world as it is today. Elms began to disappear in mass starting in the 1970s. They were dominated, lined up, domesticated, grouped together in monocultures. They lost their force and their capacity to adapt. In just a few years, bark beetles invaded their bodies. Everywhere, all over the Earth. The Elms died of love. They died due to being loved too much. Without measure, without consciousness of how important it is to respect biodiversity and the rhythms of life. They sacrificed themselves so that we could learn. Just like the plane trees and so many others today, they show us how much our acts reverberate on all other life. They transform the Earth.
The Elms left us a presence. The echo of a voice, the vibration of a collective soul that travels through the night of our past. A song made of memories, of the light of millions of huge, majestic trees, now tucked away in the memories of our parents, grandparents, and elders.
For some years now, this song breathes a new hope. A transcendence that goes beyond memory. It speaks to us of tomorrow. Of the dream of Man growing up. Of a more conscious Man who listens to life. Capable of repairing the living, of becoming the guardian of planetary harmony rather than dreaming of fleeing towards unlikely constellations.
A cappella, in the silence of our flesh, comes the song of the World’s Sap.
For many years, elms have been sleeping in my studio. They grew in Eygalières and died just like so many others, and have long been conserved by an individual who wished to hand them on to me.
In 2020, I began a new work on the memory of the living and on the importance for each one of us to do our part in repairing and preserving the living. The elms came to feed this work. I also collected the charred remains of plane trees along the D99 (which links Eygalières to Saint-Rémy de Provence) that had been cut down and burnt in 2020, and the extraordinary trunks of hundred-year-old almond trees from Eygalières. A new series of sculptures and drawings is currently in progress. This installation shares the same context as these new works.
At the same time, I wrote a novel in which the narrator is an elm who, after surviving Dutch elm disease, tells the tale of the life of the man who planted it. The narrative takes us through the entire 20th century up to today, and sheds light on the bond that ties trees and men together. The manuscript is currently in the possession of several Parisian publishers, with the goal of having it published in 2022.” Stéphane Guiran
Stéphane Guiran was born in 1968. He has lived and worked in Eygalières in Bouches-du-Rhône since 2001. Up until 2011, most of his works were steel compositions, inspired by calligraphy and writing in space.
In 2012, he joined the Alice Pauli gallery and started to work in other mediums including photography, glass and crystal, resulting in new creations closer to the natural surroundings in which he had grown up.
He created his first immersive works in 2016, with installations combining space, sound, video and light. He invites us all to play a role in the heart of his creations, to enjoy the experience of feeling and being a part of the work itself.
In 2019, he took part in the Tsukuba Biennale in Japan, where he exhibited Le rêve des neiges éternelles for the first time, a series of sculptures on the fragility and transience of living things in the face of humankind’s choices.
In 2020, with Les mers rêvent encore (Campredon Art Centre), he created a work/venue composed of installations forming a lighted path through an area completely immersed in night-time. From one room to the next, scenes from a dreamlike story illuminate an inner journey made up of emotions and sensibilities. Writing has become his work’s departure point. Places, space, matter and words dialogue and provide mutual inspiration.
In 2021, he started on a series of works on elm trees. Through their memory, he explores what their disappearance has to teach us in an ever-changing world. These recent creations are in the form of a novel, Le chant de l’Orme (published by Les Heures Brèves in 2022), and then of a series of installations including Mémoires d’Ormes (2021, Saint-Paul-de-Vence Biennale) and Le chant des Ormes (2022, Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire).
Stéphane Guiran is represented by the Alice Pauli Gallery, Lausanne (Switzerland).