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French Artist Valerie Honnart Views Modern China Via Greek Allegory

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Beijing-based French artist Ms Valerie Honnart has fused twenty-five years of living in, and visiting China together with a profound, lifelong fascination with Sisyphus to create a unique exhibition called ‘Imagine Sisyphus Happy’. The exhibition will open for the first time at the Philippe Staib Gallery in Shanghai on 1st November, 2013.

Deeply inspired by Greek mythology, Ms Honnart reinterprets the burdened and tragic image of Sisyphus enacting his life punishment by pushing his rock up the mountain each day, through modern-day China-relevant analogies of daily life. Giving a twist to the repetitive and apparently meaningless lives of people doing onerous jobs in China, Ms Honnart leverages the interpretation of Nobel-Prize winning French novelist and philosopher, Albert Camus who viewed the myth of Sisyphus as a sign of the awareness of absurdity. Therefore in contrast to his outward persona, Sisyphus’s own happiness can only be achieved through internal rebellion and a positive inner strength. The exhibition therefore provides a powerful new interpretation and comment on the seemingly burdensome daily tasks performed by people in China.

Ms Honnart wants to use the myth of Sisyphus to convey an even more universal construct namely, the value of life and the importance of the soul living in harmony with nature. She explains, “In my work I try to explore the dichotomy of the benefits that work and labouring brings us, versus the dis-harmonious stone which symbolizes the isolation of human beings from nature. So I believe that we can all eventually obtain a state of Sisyphus’s happiness.”

Commenting on the “Imagine Sisyphus Happy” collection, Peking University French Dept. Dean, Professor Dong Qiang explained“Ms Honnart’s true creativity lies not only in her ability to revive this ancient myth and make it relevant in China, but the way it triggers such personal inspiration. For example, her work has awakened me to my own indifference to the world as a result of material complacency and insensitivity to the wider world.Through a subtle fusion of Chinese imagery which is at once both familiar and yet direct, MsHonnart’s work creates an enormously powerful message that challenges observers to become more engaged, re-evaluate what is happening around them and even change their views and attitudes on life.”

The work of MsHonnart also reflects the rich influence of multi-cultural elements from both Western and Asian countries on her life enabling her to create very culturally-relevant concepts. Chinese art critic and artist Professor Mr Dong Kejian believes that the work of Ms Honnart also draws parallels with Chinese myths, explaining,“MsHonnart’s work reminds one of Sisyphus in Greek mythology and Jingwei, an indomitable spirit in the ancient Chinese myth Shan Hai Jing. I would prefer to understand her work as a persevering protest against fate rather than reincarnation or fatalism”. The combination of her profound understanding of Chinese culture and society means her work is extremely thought-provoking and motivational for modern society.

Ms Honnart will be exhibiting at the Philippe Staib Gallery in Shanghai. Founder of the Gallery, Mr Philippe Staib said, “I learned to love arts through my senses, my emotions and my eyes. This is precisely what MsHonnart provokes through her unique style and her exceptional interpretation of today’s society “.

For more information, please visit www.philippestaibgallery.comor scan the QR code

About Philippe Staib Gallery

Philippe Staib’s passion for art and especially sculpture dates back to 1990, when he opened his first gallery in New York. Since then, as well as his executive position in various renowned companies, he keeps enriching his own private collection and opened a foundry in Thailand where he discovered and launched numerous western artists living in Asia. His passion for sculptures and art in general goes beyond any specific artistic style or period. Through his galleries in Taipei and Shanghai, he is continuously exploring and promoting Western and Asian artists that strongly resonate with his belief, “love art through all the senses.” His art galleries are a genuine invitation to an emotional discovery of the arts. 

For more information regarding this press release, please contact Grayling China:


Lucy Hu                                                Givan Zhang

E-mail: lucy.hu@grayling.com                                                    E-mail:givan.zhang@grayling.com

Tel: +86 21 5239 7719 ext 104  tel: +86 21 5239 7719 ext 105

Mobile: +86136 0173 5400 Mobile: +86 187 0194 6714


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