PHYLLIS ODESSEY

There’s the RUB!

Eric Fonteneau:
La Bibliotheque

FIAF Gallery
22 East 60 St.
January 19- February 11

Hotel Sofitel
45 West 44 St.
January 19 – February 11
To Be or Not to Be?
Hamlet is not the only one who asked himself this question. So has Eric Fonteneau. His installation at the Alliance Francaise Gallery puts all of us iPad users to shame.  Over the past three years, I have sold, given away and refined my collection of “real” books.  The shelves are now filled with digital devices. There are a few tomes that no matter what have to stay.  Eric Fonteneau reminded me why.  He has turned the tables on all of us 21st. century geeks.

Fonteneau likes libraries, especially the beautiful old books they contain: moroccan leather bindings, embossed lettering, peculiar typography and the rhythm of laden shelves are his subject matter.  Rubbing, an old technique associated with things endangered of disappearing are the art form Fonteneau has taken to a new level. 

In a dimly lit room, overlaid with sepia tones, illusionistic, but based in reality, Fonteneau creates a work of art literally pieced together with push pins.  It’s a amalgam of his travels to libraries around the globe.  The bindings become more mesmerizing than they would in real life. The tiny protruding plywood desks and chairs add a note of humor to an otherwise sober experience.  The quiet gives way to laughter. 
You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but Eric Fonteneau through artifice makes me want to open an actual book once again.

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