Sylvain Rieu-Piquet's graphic work is the result of a fertile meditation on the dynamics of growth of living matter. Harping back to a pre-reflexive state of conscience, Rieu-Piquet reconnects with a natural order and complexity, graphically translating these shapes onto paper. His patterns are biomorphic and complex; arborescent processes, curved structures and movements of proliferation expand over the surface of the tracing paper — which is most often large scale — evoking an unconscious form of writing or the growth process of a plant. This aesthetic of morphogenesis relies on a display of familiar though never specifically distinguished shapes, (roots, radiolarians, fractals, wreaths of smoke, flower buds) which closely emulate an embryonic state of matter, their inconsistency and pliancy making them fit for a play of metamorphoses. Rieu-Piquet's relentless sense of detail and attention to minutia give birth to the iconography of an imaginary nature which frees itself from naturalist representations. The ornamental elegance of his compositions do not distract the viewer from the profound work of reinvention that is at hand, as the artist replicates nature's technical sophistication to produce his own shapes. From swarming sculptures to Manueline drawings, both baroque and minimal, his work stages an imaginary space for forms of natural life to engage with the extraordinary complexity of their origins.

Rieu-Piquet commits to exploring a drawing with no pre-set design or intention, giving free expression to the unpredictable or the accidental branching out. Nevertheless, he does not give way to total spontaneity. Patience is his method as he fully devotes his attention to the minute variations of his demented frieze, immersing himself in a fertile and active poetic musing which Bachelard would describe as an absorption of conscience:
" An image places itself at the heart of our imagining being. It detains us, clings to us. It instills our very being. Conscience is hereforth conquered by this single object of the world – an object which, in itself, represents the world.”
Rieu-Piquet, with both an alert and scattered mind, fashions and unravels his amorphous representations almost to the point of obsession. From the miniature L'ile des Ravissements, where hundreds of details of the setting and figures of characters intertwine, to his Calques series, which are, on the contrary, carried out with a scarcity of matter, Rieu-Piquet displays his compulsive penchant for detail and neat finish. As his conscience expands, so does the scrupulous propagation of his imaginative world.

Halfway between Haeckel's plates and Caillois's magic nature, Rieu-Piquet's compositions freely play with the tension between nature's set order — its codified design — , and the contingency of its spontaneous developments, that is, its singular plasticity. Influenced by the reference book by Arcy Thompson, On Growth and Form, the artist transfers the principles of generational physico-chemical into drawing in order to create hybrid and pseudo-natural shapes with no true natural equivalents. Departing from the observation and identification of growth mechanisms in organisms (plants, animals, humans) and of the laws of physics (crystallization, propagation of liquid), Rieu-Piquet comprehends nature as a matrix and an aesthetic model allowing him to imagine his elegant yet monstrous dream-like reticular visual universe.

Rhizomatic logic is explored in Rieu-Piquet's drawings to the extent of producing works lacking a center, a beginning, an end or any explicit meaning. These works are open to accidents or spontaneous developments and are, to a certain point, unfinished — or rather, they are infinite, as their center of gravity dissolve into whirls by way of detours and curls revealing a graphic instability inviting the viewer's gaze to glide and drift over the surface of these shapes. The use of tracing paper reinforces this effect by offering smooth expanses. The superposition of these sheets create a play of veils, further blurring identification of the various visible planes. Composition progresses from the center towards the margins in an irregular rhythm which undermines any narrative interpretation: shifting and slipping effects, concentration, dissolution turn the reading of these works into a meandering experience — literally. Moreover, Rieu-Piquet proceeds according to a metonomic principle: shapes within shapes thwart any individual linear development. The choice to favour large scale works are an invitation for the viewer to fully immerse himself and visually roam, unhindered. Rieu-Piquet's work enables the experience of a contemplative wandering at the heart of the microscopic yet manifold events of the living and gives birth to invasive figures of tremendous prolific power which do not fail to spill over into the mind of the captivated onlooker.

Florian Gaité, 2016

“Une image se met au centre de notre être imaginant. Elle nous retient, elle nous fixe. Elle nous infuse de l’être. La conscience est alors conquise par un seul objet du monde, un objet qui, à lui seul, représente le monde.” Gaston Bachelard, La Poétique de la rêverie, PUF: Paris, 1960. p. 132

translated by Helen Pownall

Multi-talented Sylvain Rieu-Piquet is trained as an applied arts teacher and also graduate of both ENSCI-Les Ateliers and the l’École normale supérieure de Cachan. A sense of detail runs through all the work of this discreetly observant designer. His creations are monolithic, sculptural and radical, timeless and universal, sustaining a complex order, a permanent tension between minimalism oad ornament, macro and microscopic design. This expansive order is perpetually moving, fluid and infinite, inspired by natural phenomena that generate motifs, placing gesture and making at the heart of his projects. Sylvain Rieu-Piquet is a prodigious explorer, expressing himself through both his knowledge of traditional techniques and his experimentation with new technologies, putting his manual talent at the service of creativity. His touch is both considered yet instinctive, like automatic writing, merging with the material to become one with it, inviting contemplation and typified by its emotional strength.

Eric Sébastien Faure Lagorce
Indépendant Curator
Extract from the catalog Mutations, Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris 2015


Born 1981
Works and lives in Paris



Paysage intérieur, Sinople Studio, Paris group show

The Great Lady, Musée des Arts Décoratifs
group show with la Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie d'Aubusson and Ymer&Malta studio


De leur temps, ADIAF / Collection Yvon Lambert, Avignon


Akari Unfolded, Noguchi Museum, New York
group show with Ymer&Malta


Absolute Tuberose, Christian Liagre, New York


Novembre à Vitry, group show


Mutations, Museum of Decorative Arts, group show


Feu de tout bois, Galerie Ymer & Malta, group show
Art protects, galerie Yvon Lambert, group show


Drawing Contest Pierre-David Weill, group show, Paris, First Price
Mineral Design, Lieu du Design, Paris, group show
Art protects, galerie Yvon Lambert, group show


A fleur de Peau, Galerie Ymer & Malta, group show


Un regard d’Obsidienne, Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier, group show
Carte blanche au Cerfav, Pantin, Solo show


Prédictions, Biennale de design de Saint-Étienne, group show


La Part des Anges, , Centre d’Art La Cuisine, Nègrepelisse, group show


Design Parade 2, Villa Noailles, Hyères, group show


Design Parade 1, Villa Noailles, Hyères, group show, Public Price with Wilfrid Minatchy



Design Miami Basel, Galerie Ymer et Malta
Art Dubai, Galerie Ymer et Malta


Design Miami Basel, Galerie Ymer et Malta