Fabienne Verdier

b. 1962

Fabienne Verdier (b. 1962, Paris, France) is an abstract painter who explores the dynamism of forces in nature, movement and immobility by drawing on her intimate knowledge of techniques and traditions of both Western and Eastern art. Verdier paints vertically in ink, standing directly on her stretchers, using giant brushes and tools of her own invention suspended from the studio ceiling. Her work combines Eastern aspects of unity, spontaneity and asceticism with the line, action and expression of Western painting.


As a young art school graduate, Verdier left France for China in 1985 to study the art of spontaneous painting and other Eastern traditions with some of the last great Chinese painters who survived the Cultural Revolution. Her adventure and immersion as an apprentice painter would last nearly ten years, recounted in her 2003 book, ‘Passagère du Silence’.


Verdier’s work has been exhibited extensively in Beijing, Singapore, Taipei, Paris, Rome, Lausanne, Zurich and Brussels, among other cities. In 2011, she was included in an important group exhibition The Art of Deceleration, from Caspar David Friedrich to Ai Wei Wei at the Kunstmuseum in Wolfsburg, Germany. In 2012, the Hubert Looser Foundation of Zurich, having previously commissioned several works, selected Verdier for a group exhibition with Donald Judd, John Chamberlain, Ellsworth Kelly and Cy Twombly in Vienna’s Kunstforum. In 2013 the Groeninge Museum in Bruges, Belgium, held an important solo exhibition of Verdier’s work in conversation with Flemish Primitives such as Van Eyck and Memling. In 2014, she was invited to create an installation of seven works for Köningsklasse II, organized by the Pinakotek der Moderne of Munich, and participated in Formes Simples at Centre Pompidou-Metz in France. In addition to her current painterly research into possible links between music and painting, recent projects include Verdier’s conceptual collaboration with architect Jean Nouvel for the National Art Museum of China project in Beijing. In 2016, seven of Verdier’s works were acquired by Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. Verdier was invited to compose a visual partita for the 2017 edition of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and won the commission to design the Roland Garros French Open official poster. In 2018, the artist set up a nomadic studio on Sainte-Victoire Mountain, renowned for its presence in several paintings by Paul Cézanne. The series was exhibited alongside the works of Cézanne at Verdier’s retrospective exhibition at Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, 2019.


Fabienne Verdier lives and works in France and Canada. She is represented in the UK by Waddington Custot. 

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Fabienne Verdier: Vortex

Waddington Custot

Exhibitions and Art Fairs


Frieze Viewing Room

Fabienne Verdier

On the occasion of Frieze New York 2021, Waddington Custot celebrates the work of French abstract painter Fabienne Verdier. The solo presentation focuses on Verdier’s expression of the way in which sound energy, created by vibrations, moves through substances, inspired by her experience as the first artist in residence at The Juilliard School, New York in 2014


During her residency, Fabienne would join the practice sessions of musicians and singers and attempt to capture the music she heard as a visible manifestation on the page, as she described: “I closed my eyes and I heard something and I got a totally new vision of what sound is. A new structure appeared in my brain: I discovered a new form, a new dynamism which was a real revolution in my painting.”


This idea was further developed the following year with ‘Vide Vibration’ part of a commission by the Roberts French Dictionary, in which Verdier considers silence as a kind of inhabited emptiness, preparing our mind to the relative movement of sound energy.


Also included in the Frieze New York  presentation are large scale paintings in a restricted palette of just two colours, including the ‘Infra-Red’ series in blue and red. With this combination, Verdier makes reference to the edges of the light spectrum as perceived by the human eye, and the light which remains on the retina, still ‘seen’ when the eyes are closed. In this respect, Verdier was interested in the impact of light energy on our bodies, as compared to the effect of sound energy, and the continued effect of the vibrations of music once a piece of music is stopped.


In 2020, Verdier returned to the arias she had been inspired by at the Juilliard School to create the ‘Vortex’ series. For these large scale canvases, Verdier prepares the background over several weeks with: a single colour, worked into the surface. The single gestural motif is created with an immense brush, suspended from the ceiling of her studio by a thick chain. In the ‘Vortex’ paintings on view here, the gesture takes the form of a whirling helix, painted in response to the operatic scaling of sopranos and altos performing Mozart arias.


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