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Stevens was born in Paris, where he later graduated from the Penninghen design school. He dedicated himself metal sculpture and was soon producing anthropomorphic sculptures and automata. In recent years, Stevens has moved away from figurative sculpture; he now focuses on the representation of space through powerful mural compositions. Steel remains his favorite 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’ geometrical compositions give form to 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 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 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 assembled elements seem to be both in free-fall and levitating, both static and animated by the flow of air or the pull of gravity. Broken Clouds is thus an invitation to gaze into virtual skies and the expanding universe.
The structures holding the elements together are carefully concealed, so that each composition seems to be floating.

The metal is given a different surface treatment, depending on the final effect intended. In some cases, the metal is left raw while certain areas are polished; the colour and texture of the metal are subtly altered, as is the way it absorbs or reflects the light. Elsewhere, Stevens applies acid to certain surfaces in order to add depth and tone. An additional illusion is thereby produced: in those compositions where some of the facets are oxidized, the metal seems to have morphed into another material.
Some sculptures take the illusion even further. In those whose surface is painted uniformly white, the resulting impression is one of weightlessness and stillness, verging on dematerialization: here the metal becomes an invisible and abstract expression of volume, space and movement. A more recent development in Stevens’ work is the inclusion of photography. A keen sky-gazer, he has captured various cloudscapes with his camera and built a picture library. Depending on the mood and tone of the composition he has in mind, he selects an image and has it digitally printed. He then applies fragments of the print onto the metal surface, turning the steel into a lens reflecting a virtual sky.
Broken Clouds exists, then, at the junction between outside and inside, between the actual and the virtual. It is an invitation to stand still and watch the expanding universe.


Blandine Chambost, July 2013










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