Oversized insects busy the forefront of Jean-François Fourtou’s nostalgic installation, Merci Louisette. Fourtou’s dreamy scene overflows with honey and hives, colossal bees and their white-suited keepers, set against a backdrop of furniture the artist inherited from his Aunt Louisette. Similar to the French sculptor’s previous works—particularly his topsy-turvy and out-of-proportion editions of his ancestors’ homes—Merci Louisette captures the uncontrolled imagination of childhood through ironic and eye-popping juxtapositions.
Although, when faced with oversized insects and hooded, white-coated workers, a typical reaction may be fear, Fourtou’s surreal style repurposes these elements for humor and play. Atop Aunt Louisette’s elaborate wood furniture, a beekeeper perches, taking a well-earned break from his work. Below, a bee stands sturdily on two legs, helping himself to a swig of fresh honey. At the far corner of the room, another figure literally strings it all together, holding the ends of the installation's network of yellow filaments like a gloved puppeteer.
As a cohesive whole, Fourtou’s bees, keepers, and furniture become “a labyrinth of memory, an accumulation of experiences lived and lost, a search for feeling, and a testimony to a bygone era,” the press release describes. And indeed, the artist has arranged each element to foster this effect, through “a maze of passages and secret corners brimming with memories and assorted objects, depicting at once a single human destiny, and the artist’s desire to capture the past, in order that it may be given new life.”