Point on view

Stevens Dossou-Yovo was born in Paris, where he later graduated from the Penninghen Design School. He dedicated himself to metal sculpture and was soon producing anthropomorphic sculptures and automata. In recent years, Stevens Dossou-Yovo has moved away from figurative sculpture; he now focuses on the representation of space through powerful mural compositions. Steel remains his favourite medium: a fairly basic material, it lends itself to all sorts of experimentation. Stevens says he derives inspiration from the sky. It is no coincidence that his studio should be suspended in mid-air, commanding an impressive view over the Paris skyline. It is a confined space with a large bay window open to the horizon, recalling a camera obscura in which the artist condenses and refracts the outside world. Stevens Dossou-Yovo’s geometrical compositions derive form an inner vision. They are poised between the weightlessness of a mental picture and the gravity of the metal. The resulting tension even hints at a metaphysical dimension. Indeed, Stevens Dossou-Yovo says that the play on optical illusion in his work reflects his questioning of the origins and confines of reality. His work is the result of his quest for some kind of order. In the artist’s studio, archaeology meets spatial exploration: “I probe, I excavate”, he says. “Working is a way for me to get closer to what I’m looking for”. Thus each sculpture leads naturally to another, and so the vision renews itself, becoming more acute in the process. With his Broken Clouds series, Stevens Dossou-Yovo believes he is getting closer to his ultimate goal. The work on volume and perspective he has pursued over the years here shows an unprecedented degree of mastery. Each sculpture offers up a spatial equation, a mathematical formula. Each combines the principles of concentration and expansion: the optical illusion is the result of a process whereby the tension between opposing forces is cancelled out, producing a striking impression of suspended motion. The structures holding the elements together are carefully concealed, so that each composition seems to be floating.

Stevens tirelessly explores the properties of steel; sometimes enamelled, sometimes brushed, sometimes oxidized, sometimes covered with digital images or matt white, metal as it shapes it multiplies illusions. Broken Clouds is a series of new pieces that further push the optical effects achieved through intense work on volume and perspective.

The metaphysics of cubes - 2013

Stevens says he needs the sky to create. It is certainly not a coincidence that this one occupies an entire part of his studio. Space both confined and widely open on the horizon, his studio is a camera obscura in which the artist condenses and refracts the cosmos.

Each of his sculptures materializes an inner vision. Suspended between the weightlessness of a vision of the mind and the gravity of the metal, his compositions of variable geometry refer, he says, to metaphysics. There is in fact in his assembly work a questioning on the origin and the confines of reality, but also the search for an order.

"I question, I search," says the artist. In this metaphysics of cubes, the Odyssey of Space merges with archeology. Following an artistic logic that is also an inner necessity, Stevens digs his path: "By working, I get closer to what I'm looking for". This is how each piece leads to another, that vision is refined and renewed. With the Broken Clouds series, Stevens says to touch closer to his target.

Each sculpture is presented as a spatial equation or a mathematical formula. Each combines the principle of concentration and expansion: the optical illusion is that the tension between opposing forces vanishes to create the striking effect of motionless motion. The assembled elements seem both free fall and levitation, both static and animated by the circulation of air, by the terrestrial attraction.

In addition to the forces specific to each of the compositions, the optical illusion is refined thanks to the different finishes of the metal elements. The artist obtains texture effects through a patiently elaborated range of processes. Thus the application of matt white on the steel allows the obtaining of a lightness and an airy calm which tends towards the dematerialization: the matter is made forget, to let express the volume, the space, the movement. On the contrary, acid oxidation provides depth and color that enriches the metal. In parts left voluntarily raw, the sheet is brushed in places to promote the play of light on the surface.

Broken Clouds invites us to contemplate the color of the sky and the expanding universe.

Blandine Chambost