Fabrice Hyber’s work is the embodiment of an endless natural movement capable of creating new realities and energies, ideas born of an unfettered imagination. An inventor of poetic metamorphoses that anticipate the changes that are bound to come, he cultivates the art of mixture, pushes back boundaries and opens up fresh possibilities, as Paris, Osaka, Nantes, Rabat, Marfa, Lisbon, Nizhniy-Novgorod, Moscow, Hamburg, Gand, Oslo and Tokyo can bear witness to today.
Fabrice Hyber defines himself as a “quantum artist”, and his artistic activity and thought are characterised by notions of mutation and transformation. He trained as a scientist before enrolling at the Nantes School of Fine Arts and sees his work as a sort of gigantic rhizome that develops from one echo to the next. It invariably starts with drawing and painting and goes on to explore all modes of expression, constantly switching from one medium to another: “The work’s materiality doesn’t matter, the only thing that counts is its ability to trigger behaviours.”
His canvases are swirling universes filled with cellular forms, trees with multitudes of branches, hybrid beings, arrows, spirals... In the 1980s, fascinated by viral modes of operation, Fabrice Hyber anticipated present-day network communication. In 2000, he was entrusted with a project on the Arc de Triomphe, where he decided to launch the website inconnu.net to address questions that had thus far remained unanswered: “Each of yours questions will lead to another. Such arborescence will get us all moving in the same direction: towards the unknown.”
Interferences, interactions, and influences on behaviours are at the heart of his process. At every turn, his variable-geometry approach is enriched by dialogue with multiple disciplines (from physics to neurosciences, astronomy to phytotherapy...) in the hope of leading the beholder/actor into a broader consideration of things. Hence, whether it’s L’Hybermarché in the Paris Museum of Modern Art, Eau d’or, Eau dort, ODOR, the television studio that won him the Golden Lion at the 1997 Venice Biennale, or his Chaosgraphie inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj, each of Fabrice Hyber’s projects involves several dimensions, never sticking to an established visual vocabulary, preferring to explore a range of writings and mediums instead.
He returns repeatedly to living things and nature, making green his colour of choice. Intermediate, mutated, hybrid states… Hyber surrounds himself with new heroes and gives birth to multitudes of animal-plants, running trees and sponge men/women... He planted two hundred fruit trees in Cahors: “The trees in our cities are there as images while fruit trees provide information”. And since 1995, his ideal forest has been growing in the Vendean valley of his childhood, where the artist planted thousands of trees.
A constant source of inspiration, trees will be in the spotlight in the canvases exhibited at Chaumont-sur-Loire. Not trees he has observed and whose shape he wished to communicate, but imaginary trees unfurling like thoughts in the process of development.
SOUS LA FORÊT, DES VIES (BENEATH THE FOREST, LIVES)
Fabrice Hyber was born in Vendée in 1961. He studied mathematics before enrolling at the Nantes School of Fine Arts. Invariably starting with drawing and painting, he goes on to explore all modes of expression.
The artist first made a name for himself in 1991 with his self-portrait Traduction (Translation), a 22-tonne bar of soap that has also made its way into the Guinness Book of Records. This humorous and often jubilant approach is no longer evident anywhere except in his Prototypes d’Objets en Fonctionnement (POF – Prototypes of Objects in Operation). With these objects, which grew out of drawings, ideas or conversations, Fabrice Hyber removes the original functions of various everyday items as if to show us that for every choice we make an unlimited number of possibilities also exists and that it is up to the artist to reveal them. Tested out by the public during exhibitions including Testoo and At your own risk, the POFs also act as the stakes in his C’Hyber Rallye treasure hunts, events during which the artist immerses competitors in his world for 3 days/nights in a row.
In 1994, after coming up with the term “artist-entrepreneur” in the late 1980s, Fabrice Hyber created Unlimited Responsibility (UR), an SARL (Limited Liability Company) intended to foster production and exchanges of projects between artists and entrepreneurs: “We need to turn collectors, mainly business leaders, into producers of works”, “cross and connect different territories, act, do”. The artist continues the same commitment today with the “Les Réalisateurs” (The Producers) training programme, run in collaboration with art schools and business schools and designed to get young artists to find new means of production. In 2012, with the same desire to induce or generate new behaviours, he joined forces with the Pasteur Institute to launch the Organoïde project, which puts researchers and artists in contact with each other with a view to providing the general public with a new vision of biomedical research and the challenges it involves.
Fabrice Hyber’s work is featured in many national and international collections, and he has undertaken a variety of commissions. Since 1991, his little anthropomorphic sculptures whose bodily orifices spout water (Homme de Bessines / Man from Bessines) have been appearing in cities in France and elsewhere. We might also mention L’Artère – le jardin des dessins (The Artery – Garden of Drawings), a 1001-m² ceramic area covered in drawings laid out in La Villette Park, a living environment designed to raise awareness on HIV, and Le Cri, l’Écrit (The Scream, the Writing) in the Luxembourg Gardens, , which commemorates the abolition of slavery.
In each project, his determination to invent new ways of acting upon reality leads him to combine techniques, fields of knowledge, disciplines and skills. Hence, with the Lutetia Hotel’s glass roof (2018), the artist presents the outcome of an experiment on glass that he had been working on for several years. It has resulted in a glass watercolour connecting architecture, landscape and sky. For Les deux chênes (The Two Oaks – 2018), a work created for Paris’ most recent open-air walkway, the Beaupassage, Fabrice Hyber moulded a duplicate of one of the oldest trees in his Vendean valley in order to create a landmark, a reason to stop a while, a memory of living things, in the heart of the city.
As an artist for whom “art is the only way of learning about the world by making disciplines interact,” he makes transmission central to his work. From 2002 to 2005, Fabrice Hyber taught at the National Higher School of Fine Arts before creating “Les Réalisateurs”, as well as various “training courses” in Pantin, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Vendée, where his Foundation is located. He was elected to the Academy of Fine Arts in 2018 and appointed Ambassador for the National Forestry Office’s “Agir pour la Forêt” endowment fund in 2021. “The forest is a knowledge of the world. We must commit ourselves without delay so that it remains in the common good for as long as possible”, he explained at the time.