Fabrice Hyber. Pétri Pétrifié (Petrified Petri)

Contemporary artist Fabrice Hyber created 50 drawings in tribute to Postman Cheval, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Ideal Palace's listing as a Historical Monument.

By Postman Cheval's Ideal Palace

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

Fabrice Hyber

A major artist in his generation,Fabrice Hyber is active in various domains and works across diverse media. In 1997, he was selected to represent France in the 47th Venice Biennale, becoming one of the youngest recipients of the Leone d'Oro (Golden Lion), the highest prize given to a film at the Venice Film Festival. 

In the Ideal Palace, he designed 50 drawings, in an attempt to translate the creative spirit of Ferdinand Cheval. They were exhibited at the same time as the drawings created by Picasso in tribute to Postman Cheval. 

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

Color

To open this vast laboratory, Fabrice Hyber started by researching just one color: golden enoughto give the image of the Ideal Palace in the sun, with grey nuances, to show the passing of time.

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

The First Stone

Entirely naturally, the first drawing created by Fabrice Hyber is of a stone. The firststone is portrayed as a seed, germinating an idea, a concept, a Palace.

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

The Ideal Palace in itself has become an artistic breeding ground, inspiring new vocations, giving way to new creations. Effectively, Postman (Ferdinand) Cheval has become a reference for many artists: Picasso, Dali, Magritte, the surrealists, and many more...

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

Initial Source of Inspiration: La Tour

Fabrice Hyber reflects, in his drawings, on the reasons behind Postman Cheval's quest to create this prodigious and unique artwork. The first is his work Tour. 

It should be noted that, in his drawings, Fabrice Hyber depicts Postman Cheval in the style of The Walking Man, as a nod to Alberto Giacometti.

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

Cheval said, "Over the course of several years, and each year, no matter the weather, my work as a postman meant that I walked over 32 km (20 miles) each day. What is a man to do, when he walks alone outdoors, amidst nature, other than reflect on anything and everything? " 

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

Postman Cheval: Hansel & Gretel, but in Reverse!

Hansel and Gretel left pebbles along their path. Postman Cheval followed his paths to collect stones.

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

But walking wasn't the only way! Fabrice Hyber reflects on other remarkable aspects of Ferdinand Cheval's life: the loss of his children, his lectures, his desire to welcome the public, the fact he retrained ... but also his training as a baker!

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

To Be a Baker

The Ideal Palace was the moment where Ferdinand Cheval traded in flour for limestone.

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

The rounded forms he handled were no longer loaves of bread or pastries, Cheval had found his stumbling block. He turned his attention to masonry and’architecture.

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

Pétri Pétrifié (Petrified Petri)

That's the name of the artwork! These two words tell the story of the genius baker-turned-stonemason. 

Pétrir

It is to knead a substance... whether it's flour or limestone.

Pétrifié 

This is to become stone. 

PTT

Initially called Post and Telegraphs (P&T), then Post, telegraphs and telephones (PTT), the Post Office (La Poste) employed Ferdinand Cheval for 29 years. Pétri, Pétrifié, PTT, an assonance with which Fabrice Hyber humorously summed up the life of Postman Cheval.

Petri Pétrifié (2019/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

Bread

Fabrice Hyber loves wordplay. Pain (Bread) is a nod to the first trade of Postman Cheval. The French word, "Pain" could read like the feeling "Pain" in English. A justly applied word for Ferdinand Cheval, who tragically buried his entire family, and who spent 33 years alone working on his masterpiece.

The edible cage (1994/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

The Edible Cage

At the center of the exhibition, the artist gives a nod to his older works, The Edible Cage, from 1994. Constructed in partnership with the Bakery of Hauterives, who marked the occasion with the creation of six foot long baguettes, the artwork came to illustrate the genius of Postman Cheval.

The edible cage (1994/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

Like the Ideal Palace, the structure of the Edible Cage is made from metal stems. In the Ideal Palace, its stems are covered with limestone. In the Cage, they're covered with flour.

The edible cage (1994/2019) by Fabrice HyberPostman Cheval's Ideal Palace

Inside, there are two inseparable birds, named Ferdinand and Philomène, in tribute to Postman Cheval and his wife. In this precarious edifice, the two birds can interact with their environment by choosing to eat it, or to preserve it. 

During the exhibition, Ferdinand and Philomène escaped five times, before sagely returning into their cage, which was left open. They now live with a family from Hauterives, who adopted them.

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