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Mr et Mme Gorgô is the shared signature of two exceptional artists, Michel Gouteux and Bénédicte Devillers, whose chance meeting at an exhibition is the origin of a particularly original symbiotic work which allies the conceptual imagination of one with the exceptional pictorial skills of the other. The result of this collaboration therefore takes on an entirely innovative and fertile character. It is the perfect demonstration that as we enter the 21st century, even if nothing is prohibited in the domain of art, painting is more capable than ever, in the manner of Surrealism in the second quarter of the 20th century, of enlarging the field of artistic expression by invading the domain of the subconscious. Gorgô rewrites universal archetypes in an iconography brimming with ingenuity in order to convey the dreams and anxieties of the human race.

These enigmatic paintings illustrate a personal mythology. They appeal, upset or disturb... but never leave the observer indifferent. They operate a clever mirror effect through their subjects, which are shamelessly engaging and tempt us into “voyeurism” by leading us into an intimate world that is both inaccessible and open to doubt. This phantasmagorical universe, which is born in the very depths of its conceiver’s subconscious and skilfully put into perspective by the painter, takes us on a fascinating and provocative journey of discovery to meet half-man half-beast hybrids stemming from ancient Greek iconography. It is hardly surprising therefore that, for their pseudonym, the “duo” chose the Gorgon (in Greek Gorgo), the imaginary creature capable of petrifying those that look at it.

Gorgô’s work is carried out in perfect harmony: Michel Gouteux “shares” his imaginary world by designing and composing scenes and motifs, the drawing is executed four-handedly, and the brush is wielded by Bénédicte Devillers who, perfectly attuned to Michel Gouteux’ world, brings the work to completion. The composition is very studied, the graphics precise, the brushstrokes meticulous, and the palette dazzling, with its bright colours and red accents. The magic created by the picturesque decors enhances the impact of staging of characters in situ.

Gorgô seems to be a distant echo of the Expressionism extolled by Die Brücke and the New Objectivity that arose in the early 20th century, which denounced the contemporary perversion of a degenerate society lacking new values. While seeking to give meaning to this exploration of the human soul, both in its beauty and its darkness, Gorgô never fails to suggest a certain derision of humans, the aim being to convey a “lightness of existence”.

Francine Bunel-Malras, Art Historian

As Marcel Duchamp so remarkably said, “Painting should not be exclusively visual or retinal. It must also appeal to the grey matter and our appetite for understanding.” Born of a symbiotic meeting between the two exceptional artists Michel Gouteux and Bénédicte Devillers, the dreamlike and surrealist world of Mr and Mrs Gorgô addresses this intellectual dimension in the inherent poetry of their pieces by awaking the strange unknown world that is dormant within us.

By creating in perfect synergy with Michel Gouteux, who develops the structure of the artwork, Bénédicte Devillers masterfully gives body to the composition by portraying a whole world on her canvas, one in which her sensual and daring palette liberates fanciful and original figures from a hybrid society in which space and time no longer exist.

Thus, as the Gorgôs’ work takes shape, we discover women with voluptuous and sprawling shapes, appearing at times childlike, at others motherly. Seductive and malefic young ladies with atypical and ambiguous physiognomies coexist with creatures that are half-man, half-beast, their physical malformations symbolising their immorality and sins. Even if the woman remains fundamentally present in the composition, we cannot help but linger on the symbolic use of birth in the representations of new-born babies. Their pictorial postures, which Bénédicte Devillers skillfully exploits, testify to the eternal renewal of a world that is personified by the presence of the aesthetically unsettling flamingo.

Prodigiously sincere and pictorially expressive, the Gorgôs’ work tells stories that overturn our emotions and subconscious. Visiting the land of ‘Gorgonia’ means attempting to understand the absurd and the irrational that exists in very one of us.

Sandrine Turquier, Writer – Art Critic

What infinite pleasure it is to let our eyes roam over the paintings created by par Bénédicte DEVILLERS. Created is the correct term, for this artist from Le Havre is unscrupulously indifferent to overstated naivety, seeking instead a dreamlike and surrealist quality. Her paintings possess a bitter charm that stems from her brimming imagination that also assures the undeniable success and originality of her work.

Surprising and fascinating, these characters, whether nude or clothed, at times half-man half-beast, bring to life an array of daring stories in a decor that is remarkably constructed. With ease, a confident brush-stroke, and a well-chosen palette of pure colours, the artist invites the observer to be a witness to her comical fantasies and intensely enjoyable obsessions. The variety of humourous details reflects an undeniable and reinvigorating impertinence.

So, whether joyful, dreamy or spicy, Bénédicte DEVILLERS’ paintings re-conjure the often forgotten key purpose of art, which is to surprise and win over.

André RUELLAN, art critic

Art can at times contribute to giving meaning back to life. It is a result of a combination of circumstances making it emerge as necessary, and can become a way of exploring (if not explaining) the secrets of the subconscious. This is because, like icebergs, the invisible part of a being is greatly superior to what is outwardly perceivable. Therefore even our daily lives resemble slumber during which time certain troubling images may surface owing to the mystery invested in them. Translating and decrypting them is a fascinating experience.

Associated for a longtime to naive art, a window that allowed her to meet other painters and feel supported, Bénédicte Devillers adapted her style for a time to an approach that, unconsciously, kept her outside her limits to the extent that, as she herself admits, she suffered a rude awakening. The slow and precise nature of the work she produced hardly concurred with the onslaughts she experienced in her inner life. Feeling confused as to why she seemed unable to progress at her own rhythm, she became increasingly invaded by doubt.

It was then that she met Michel, the partner with whom she decided to live. Very quickly, a deep complicity was established between them, producing a sort of symbiotic state that triggered works whose origins arise from their energetic exchange. “For me meeting Michel was a real shock” explains Bénédicte Devillers. “My life and painting was immediately affected. It seemed that nothing could dissociate us any longer. We were guided towards one other. Michel told me he was there to support me, and help me reach my full potential. He immediately felt I was able to achieve great things.”

Feeling drawn to painting from a very early age, Bénédicte, like many women, for a long time sacrificed her desire and concentrated on the necessities in life. She found this hindrance mortifying. One canvas, which was undoubtedly decisive, bears witness to this “absence of life”. It portrays the seven wives of Blue-Beard who seem to rise up from the floor. They represent of course the expression of a symbolic death and allowed the painter to become conscious of her awakening. It was a real renaissance for her. Bénédicte’s singular fascination for mythological figures, angels, Goyaesque and vampiric characters reflects her pressing need to enter into communication with her soul. Embodying both instinct and spiritual quest, the artist’s work expresses what strikes or worries her, and what awakens desire within her, consequently recalling the works of surrealist painters. “I never censure myself” she said. “I am aware of visions that come to me and I integrate them into my painting.”

Working with renewed energy, Bénédicte Devillers frequently associates the town where she lives (Le Havre) with the dreams that arise from her imagination.

Luis PORQUET, art critic

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