Zoé Rumeau

The Heads by joy sorman


A crowd, a multitude of faces gathered together to finally meet.

Each tries to make a place for itself in the hubbub, some smile, others shut their eyes, squinting or concerned. 

Some hide, others hug or whisper in their ears long unspoken truths, head to head, cheek to cheek, a mouth pressed against a neck. 

Humanity massed in a heap, a human dough to form these plaster faces. 


Being an artist might be: not remaining indifferent. Not indifferent to material, to the earth I step upon, which bears and sustains me, which I also trample and shape, and that in the end will swallow me up. That's what being an artist might be. 

Zoé Rumeau stands steadfast before material, all materials, everything the earth spews forth like a volcano – slate, wood, bronze, leather, horn, fur, crystal – like a sailor in a storm stands steadfast before the gusting wind, howling with joy and terror.  

Zoé Rumeau is an artist the way one is a geologist, volcanologist, seismologist: obsessed with shifts, movements, scents and exhalations of living matter that she grinds, cuts, smoothes, trims, digs, spreads, tears to pieces then reshapes. She forges a stubborn relationship – carnal, careful, conscientious – with all she touches, with everything that moves through her hands. She is completely responsive to the world – not the world as a vague entity, the word that actually means an ungraspable idea – but immediate reality: mineral and animal, raw and also foreign: the swaths of fur she sews together piece by piece for hours and days on end; the wood she carves up with a chainsaw then burns; the dried clay she meticulously hacks into tiny fragments; the strips of slate she glues one by one; the fleshy cow horns she fetches from the butcher then boils and scrapes clean; the crystal that bakes an entire week in the oven; the harnesses hewn by a chainsaw then sewn together. 


Zoé Rumeau is an artist the way one is an artisan: shaping shifting materials that resist her instruments and the blades of her tools, increasing then reducing their density, giving them new shape – malleable earth in the swell of her 9-month pregnant belly – working with patience and dedication. What pervades her artworks: work, laboring hands – like those of a worker, miner or blacksmith – the time that's passed; and the time that's passed is long. How long does it take to produce the grafts of black-tinted cement on twisted and charred ivywood? The time – or rather patience – to do and do again, to fold the material in her hands and fold it again, subject it to her desire, come to terms with its resistance, attempt alliances between water and fire, hard and soft, raw and baked.  

We sometimes forget the extent to which art is a succession of efforts and gestures, how much the artist struggles to gather what her hands frantically seek. Collecting at the furrier's, butcher's, glassmaker's; gathering scraps of material that have been amputated, forgotten, left almost for dead, then reviving them with grafts, cuttings and blood-lettings. A second life is bestowed upon these fragments of reality broken off from the world (the world = everything that surrounds us, our immediate environment), like meteorites fallen from the sky and stranded, which someone comes to gather. 


Zoé Rumeau is constantly becoming engrossed in new materials that suddenly appear and give birth to new works. Each time asking herself: how do I feel? What's happening to me? What's happening to me with this bit of slate in my hand? This polished crystal in my eye? This clay under my fingernails? Engulfed by her cocoons of harnesses, leather and hemp, sucked into fur-lined caves, passing through walls of clay, ripping them with horns planted like banderillas. A frontal relationship, intimate, between the artist and the forms she's forged with her hands yet which escape her nevertheless, rising up irreducible as if surged from the earth – lava flow, landslide, forest fire, avalanche. 

Faced with the earth that is both welcoming, brutal, familiar and inhospitable, what can the artist's body do? It can inhabit it for a time, beguile it, soften it. Rugged caves open into an enveloping cocoon of fur. The sweetness of refuge enticed from the austerity of dry clay. 

Zoé Rumeau inhabits materials, opens cracks, passages in her works to – literally – pass through them, go in then back out, pierce them and bounce back. Inside, outside, the coming-and-going of the artist who's never indifferent, never at peace, never satisfied by the material of the world she fondles in her hands.  

Joy Sorman


Biba Magazine by Evelyne Eveno


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TELERAMA -  Exposition Sans Tete / No Head | Galerie Laure Roynette


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