François Méchain is a French photographer and sculptor born on 27 June 1948 in Varaize, a village in Charente-Maritime that dates back to Gallo-Roman times.
He grew up in a family of farmers, and their culture, their way of life and relationship with the countryside and landscape had a profound effect on him. The idea of the horizon in its broadest sense is everywhere in his work. Not forgetting archaeology, also in the widest sense of the term, which he has made one of the major focuses of his research in the field of visual art and which he has regularly drawn upon.
In 1969, after completing his secondary schooling (literature stream) at the sixth-form college of Saint-Jean-d’Angély, he enrolled at the Bourges School of Fine Arts, where he finished his student days as an assistant in the Art Department’s photography section.
He went on to take up a career in higher education, joining Saint-Etienne’s School of Fine Arts (now known as the School of Art and Design) in 1977, continuing there as a teacher of the history and practice of photography up until 2010. In parallel, from 1997 to 2008, he was regularly involved in teaching sculpture at Jean Monnet University in Saint-étienne He has also given a good many masterclasses during his various artist’s residences and by invitation in France and across the world, including in Canada, University of Chicoutimi UQAC (1995), masterclass on Landscape in the context of the Arles International Photo Festival, (1996), masterclass at the Chicago Art Institute’s school (2001), Provence Aix-Marseille University, with the philosopher Michel Guérin (2003 and 2006), Reunion Island School of Fine Arts, Indian Ocean (2004-2005 and 2013), Walferdange University, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (2005), Michel de Montaigne University, Bordeaux (2007), and Michel de Montaigne University Bordeaux 3 (2008) among many others. He is a life member of the Reunion Higher School of Art, Le Port, Reunion Island.
The artist defines himself as a wandering photographer and sculptor. He produces sculptures, drawings and large-format photographs along with in situ installations.
He started off being represented by the Zabriskie Gallery (Paris), and then, for over thirty years, by the Michèle Chomette (Paris), with parallel representation by the Spectrum Gallery (Saragossa), the Bodo Niemann Gallery (Berlin) and the Alfa Delta Gallery (Athens).
He has been awarded a range of grants during the course of his career, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Leonardo da Vinci Prize for his Quebec project (1990), the Visual Arts Delegation’s FIACRE grant for his Crestet project (1991) and the Canadian government’s research grant at the Banff Art Centre (1991).
Starting off with silver-process photography, his work has continued to evolve ever since: “Equivalences” series, “Animal Geographies” series and “Sculptures Fictions” series, to finally focus on in situ work, the fruit of numerous commissions in France and abroad.
He has shown his work in over 400 solo and collective exhibitions in 27 countries. His works feature in many private collections, including Angers’ Artothèque, Annecy’s Artothèque, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (Paris), National Collection of Contemporary Art (Paris), FRAC Pays de Loire, FRAC Poitou-Charentes, L’Imagerie (Lannion), Crestet’s Art Centre (Vaison-la-Romaine), Galería Spectrum-Sotos (Saragossa, Spain), National Museum of Modern Art – Centre Pompidou (Paris), Calais’ Museum of Fine Arts and Lace, Museet for Fotokunst, Kunsthallen Brandts Klaedefabrik (Odense, Denmark), City of Niort, Bühl Foundation (New York, USA), Museum of Photography and Contemporary Art (Charleroi, Belgium), EDF-Centrale Collection in Civaux, Nei Liicht Collection (City of Dudelange, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), Centro de Artes Visuals Collection, Encontros de Fotografia (Coimbra, Portugal), Chasanoff Collection, Fine Arts Museum (Houston, USA), Centro Galego de Artes da Imaxe Collection (Saint James of Compostela, Spain), Centro de Arte y Naturaleza “Fundación Beulas” Collection, (Huesca, Spain), Amiens’ Artothèque, and La Casa de la Imagen (Logroño, Spain).