Inaugurated in Brussels in 2000, La Verrière is part of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès international network of galleries. Invited to take over the space, Hubert Duprat installed an imposing polystyrene architecture adorned with rectangles of shagreen, a high-end leather used in leather goods. This white fortress, which occupies the space to the point of almost obstructing it, is astonishing in its scale as in the choice and use of materials. Polystyrene and shagreen have a similar grainy texture, but create a striking contrast in terms of density, appearance and symbolic value.
“This white structure takes us back to geometric modernism and the autonomous methods of early 20th-century art. But there’s a disturbing element, suggested by the title, which derives from the English word “shagreen”: ray or shark skin, whose rectangles seem to serve as staples to hold the white object together, and require traditional know-how and expertise, so that the work evokes the time lapse between the era of the handmade, the artisanal, and modern industry, or rather melts one into the other. “*
*Martin Herbert, « Une vision holiste », in TextWork, Fondation Ricard, July 2019