Éric de Ville (born in Ixelles in 1956)

Photograph pasted on metal, 119 x 300 cm
Inv. 2013.1.1

© Éric de Ville

Major works | Earthly and Spiritual Matters

A Paradise populated by birds

In the manner of a Flemish tapestry, Éric de Ville’s Paradise takes on the appearance of a dense, opaque forest, with practically no notion of sky or ground. The carpet of vegetation is populated by birds, which are generally depicted in couples. Animals nestle in the greenery to form touches of colour that draw the gaze around the work. A few mammals – like the monkeys – appear from time to time.

Tortoises are clearly visible in the right foreground. They appear to be intruders in the world that resembles an aviary more than it does a truly earthly Paradise.

Éric de Ville the photographer plays with the digital world and all its possibilities, mainly thanks to photographic retouching. He offers here his vision of Paradise on Earth in the form of a screen of greenery that oppresses more than it liberates the gaze. The screen forms a contrast with the image of the bird, which, with this artist, evokes liberty. It is noteworthy that humans are always absent from Éric de Ville’s works – as is the case here.

The work is an opportunity for the artist to constantly go to and fro between major artistic references, as well as allusions to his memories of childhood: the house that one glimpses in the distance is his grandparents’; the forest is itself a reference to the garden around that house. However, that bourgeois residence is also a reference to René Magritte: depicted at nightfall, when sunlight gives way to artificial light. The bird theme calls for linking to that of birds in trees from 17th-century works, like that of the artist Jan van Kessel.

In that way, Éric de Ville builds a work that is poetic, luminous, and imbued with sweet melancholy.