3 Great Denmark Street, Dublin 1, Ireland
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'Chiens Bleus, Chiens Gris', an exhibition by LEYHO at the Olivier Cornet Gallery

19 July - 24 August 2018

solo show

Artist: LEYHO

Official Opening: Thursday 19 July 2017, 6:30pm, Olivier Cornet Gallery, 3 Great Denmark Street, Parnell Square Cultural Quarter, Dublin 1

Guest speaker: Jessica Peel-Yates, Manager of the James Joyce Centre Dublin

The Olivier Cornet Gallery is delighted to present 'Chiens Bleus, Chiens Gris', a comic book and exhibition about the life and death of Francis Régeard during World War I, by the artist LEYHO, his great grand nephew.

Born in Rennes (France) and Dublin-based for some time, Léo Régeard, better known under his alias LEYHO, has worked as a CG artist for motion pictures and TV shows, such as Game of Thrones and Black Sails.

The exhibition will also include a series of WWI photographs by François Bost, Olivier Cornet’s great grand uncle who was enlisted in the Photographic Section of the French Army during the war and who ‘followed’ the Battle of the Somme.

Olivier has also commissioned Robert Russell, artist and director of the Graphic Studio Dublin, to create 3 photo intaglios (edition of 25 each) from a selection of his ancestor’s photographs. These prints have been produced on a traditional etching press.

"Gallerist Olivier Cornet met graphic artist Leyho in the summer of 2017 when they were working on the Drawing on Joyce project for the Bloomsday Festival. They discovered that their French great grand uncles had been on active service in the First World War. Both had documented it. Olivier’s great grand uncle Francois Bost had been a war photographer while Leyho’s great grand uncle Francis Régeard had carried notebooks with him in the trenches.

Francois’s photo album and Francis’s notebook pose as many questions as they answer. Together, they reveal the chaotic horror of the war machine, far from glamourized or propagandistic representations.

When he was a young child, Olivier Cornet remembers first seeing the pictures that his great grand uncle took during the First World War. "I saw his aerial photographs as a kid and they just looked beautiful to me," says Cornet.

For Leyho, Bost’s photos offered visual fragments, unedited jigsaw pieces, to inspire his “Chiens Bleus, Chiens Gris” bande-desinée project. These bleached out photos capture the immediacy of the battlefield, far from black and white nostalgic representations.

Leyho says “One can legitimately wonder how to put into images the incredible period that was the First World War. It has been so well documented, photographed, and even filmed. Every person has a definite trace in memory, a strong mental image. So much so that one can speak of "collective imagination". Discovering Bost’s photos, and discussing with Olivier the commonality of their ancestor’s experience, helped Leyho imagine his graphic interpretation.

Leyho continues “The term imagination is essential because it highlights that, of all that could be lived during these battles, no one today bore witness to the reality of them. We can only imagine it, theorize it and maybe even fantasize it. We cannot know it. It is with this point of view that I drew and coloured this story. I sought to give an impression, emotions, rather showing the photographic truth.”

Leyho was also inspired by ‘Aftermath, the war landscapes of William Orpen’, an exhibition held at the National Gallery of Ireland in 2017. Orpen’s sketch books, his bleached landscapes, his trench-eye view of the traumas of war, fed Leyho’s interpretation of his great grand uncle’s story. Leyho says “To tell such a story, I think you need to go deep down into the imagination of a soldier in his twenties, upset by a profound cataclysm that no one should experience.”

For Cornet, it was the tangibility of his great grand uncle’s photo album that made war real to him. Recalling his childhood, Olivier said that he experienced Bost’s photos in glorious technicolour. François Bost used his camera to capture the reality of the first World War, the so-called War to End All Wars. He didn't know that his images would, a century into the future, join forces with Francis Régeard’s notebook and the art of William Orpen to inspire the 9th art of Chiens Bleus, Chiens Gris."
Jessica Peel-Yates, June 2018

More about LEYHO:

LEYHO was born in Rennes, France and quickly developed a wide interest in drawing. He spent his childhood between European comics and Sunday morning cartoons on TV. The shy boy soon became a compulsive teenage drawer and an adventure movie director with friends from the neighbourhood. After secondary school, he studied art and cinema in Nantes, then moved to Paris. Now based in Dublin, Léo works as a Computer Graphic Artist for motion pictures and TV shows. He has never ceased to draw. Personal projects become everyday tasks for him. LEYHO takes inspiration from his trips to countries such as India, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and Burkina Faso. In his artworks he talks, most of the time, about his greatest childhood heroes, myths and wild spaces.

Reviews

The Olivier Cornet Gallery is delighted to see that this show has received critical acclaim.

Five of the best art shows to see this week in Ireland (Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times, The Ticket, Saturday 28th June 2018)
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"With its judicious mix of document and image – Leyho’s original drawings, the intaglios, the photographic prints and the sturdily bound volume of photographs plus Francis’s meticulously written notebook, with capable diagrammatic sketches – Chiens Bleus, Chiens Gris is a fascinating, slow-burning exhibition." Aidan Dunne.

Extract from:
'Battlefield photos provide ammunition for drawings of first World War' (a full review by Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times, Tuesday, 31st July 2018)

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"I celebrated the 100th anniversary of 2nd Lieutenant Bill Fisk’s journey from England to the Somme in August 1918, by pushing open the 18th-century wooden door of 3 Great Denmark Street in Dublin this week, and entering the First World War."
Robert Fisk

Extract from 'On the anniversary of the end of the First World War, even photographs cannot speak of our true history', full review by Robert Fisk,The UK Independent, Thursday 9th August 2018.

The same review by Robert Fisk also appeared in the Dawn newspaper in Pakistan on Saturday 11th August 2018

Another version of Robert Fisk's article was printed in the i-Newspaper in the UK with the title 'My father and other men of the Somme - 100 years ago, Robert Fisk's dad Bill fought alongside war photographer François Bost' (article 1) and 'Imaginative comic book portrays battlefield in alarming detail (article 2).Click here to download PDF version.

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'Beauty trumps Evil !', Scéalta Ealaíne, Irish Art Blog by gallery artist Eoin Mac Lochlainn, 2nd of August 2018

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