Interpretations of Lyon based Eric Lacombe’s mixed media works and paintings have been varied and extreme: monstrous, melancholy, horrific, and even beautiful. Describing his art as “caricatures of the soul”, the self-taught artist’s images exaggerate and distort his characters’ faces into haunting portrayals. Their faces look almost like masks, some painted without mouths or eyes, or given bird-like beaks, and yet their transfiguration is the most revealing thing about them. Each is a sort of reflection of the artist’s own feelings, who likens his subjects’ appearance to a deconstruction of their torment.
“I want to evoke that stillness, that loneliness, that sensation of fear, melancholy and happiness,” he explains. He has an abstract approach to painting and drawing- his images are expressive and spontaneous, while also detailed in some areas, suggesting mottled skin or rotting flesh that is breaking away from the face to reveal the tormented spirit underneath. For his current solo show at Last Rites Gallery in New York, Lacombe sought to convey the “end of life thoughts” of his figures.
Entitled “The Weight of Silence”, his 20 new paintings and sculptures in the show are the artist’s interpretation of death, and the implications of silence in connection to death. Playing to the mysterious quality of his characters, Lacombe’s protagonists in these works are neither alive nor dead but somewhere inbetween. “I love the quiet drama the living exude whenever they are asleep, or tired of life, or even dead,” he says. “Imagine the very moment before death when life slips away and something new begins: this moment is truly precious, because everything is silent.”