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Erik Desmazières

New York Reviews: Erik Desmazières at Fitch-Febvrel
Art News, December, 1983, by Ruth Bass

Desmazières' drawings range from intimate, directly-observed interiors to wild architectural fantasies rendered with a precision and an attention to detail that make them completely believable. This young French artist was born in Rabat, Morocco, and currently lives in Paris. He has shown his etchings in the United States, but this was the first exhibition devoted to his drawings. Indeed, many of the mixed-media drawings have the look of etchings: fine webs of ink hatchings, cross-hatchings and stipplings describe and unify the surfaces of walls, windows, drapes, upholstered chairs and objets d'art in a Parisian art dealer's living room, or create a towering architectural ruin that bends upward toward the clouds while crowds of miniscule men in business suits or fezzes and robes sit and stand on bridges, outcroppings or the tops of columns.

One thing that does distinguish the drawings from the etchings, especially in the more recent work, is Desmazières' increasing use of color. Often the addition of watercolor or gouache is so subtle—for instance, in the tiniest bit of pale green on the wall of a building seen through a second–story window—that we don't even notice it at first. In Tour vue d'une terrasse (1981–83) a gray-brown ambience is subtly altered by touches of blue, green and brown that emerge only after the most painstaking perusal.

Undoubtedly the artist's fantastic palaces, mysterious towers, deserted cities, mythical warriors and incredible war machines owe much to the art of the old masters, but he records his imagined vistas in such loving and intimate detail that they become totally his own and seem every bit as real as his depictions of the sitting room in Paris, an antique dresser against a wall or his sister sketching by the side of a swimming pool in Africa.

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