From figuration to abstraction
Irène Rohr and Heather Chontos end this cycle devoted to women artists. Everything separates them: their technique, their practice, their era, their style, figurative or abstract. Even their destiny is the opposite: Irène has fallen into oblivion, Heather is pursuing an international career. However, they are both featured in Pierre Frey's 2021 wallpaper and fabric collections, Eternel été and La Joie de vivre, because their luminous creations evoke emotion. Focus on these free and inspiring women, for whom creating is as essential as breathing.
Through their portraits, Pierre Frey wishes to celebrate the art of women.
IRENE ROHR : THE FANTASTIC INVITED
Between 1935 and 1969, Mr. Pierre Frey recorded in a black notebook the designs he bought in the order of their receipt. He wrote down the name of the designer, the title of the design, its price and the name of the manufacturer chosen to make the fabric adaptation. He indicated the entry number on the back of the design. This rigorous management of the acquisitions allowed him to immediately connect a designer to his creation, which was rarely signed. Thank you Mr. Frey!
Throughout the pages, an anthology of famous names, Jean-Denis Malclès, Ken Scott, Roger Chapelain-Midy, etc. gives a glimpse of the bustling art scene of the time. Others have fallen into oblivion. Irène Rohr is one of them.
Who is Irene Rohr?
Irène Rohr is a designer for fabrics whose talent is recognized in the 1940s. She exhibited at the French Imagery Salon. The quality of her compositions was highlighted in the magazine "Mobilier et décoration" in 1946. The reviews of the time being only partial, the future may hold some surprises. A certain Irène Pierson-Rohr, creator of decorative panels, is mentioned in the exhibition of the artisans of Paris at the Forney library in 1963. Is it the same person?
Between 1944 and 1948, she made fourteen compositions for Pierre Frey, all of which were published, except for two. Pierre Frey made very few transformations at the time of printing. Playing on a few details or sometimes the coloring, he never changes the composition or the proportions, which suggests that Irene has mastered her art perfectly. Her patterns are easily printed. At the end of the war, the means of the textile industry are limited. Irene's four-color designs were particularly well suited to wood block printing, which allowed for the production of small runs of fabric.
An invitation to the fantastic
Irène Rohr is part of a surrealist movement, giving free rein to her imagination. As if out of a dream, Irene's figures plunge the viewer into a microcosm beyond reality. Centaurs, mermaids, unicorns compose a bestiary inspired by mythology and the Middle Ages.
Through these creations, they tell stories: that of Diana or Icarus. But she also tries her hand at more anecdotal and humorous themes such as the marivaudage or the understanding between neighbors with the drawing "Everyone at the windows".
A unique style
Irene Rohr's creations are identifiable at first glance. She never uses black outlines, preferring to treat her figures in flat areas of color. Her line is both rigorous and sinuous in a search for fantasy. Her drawings are astonishing for the liveliness and brightness of their colors, the freshness of the motifs. Whatever the subject represented, it emerges from his figurative creations a lot of poetry and fantasy.
HEATHER CHONTOS: THE POWER OF GESTURE AND COLOR
How would you describe your artistic vision? Do you have any favorite topics?
My artistic vision could be described as vibrant! I love the interplay of color and abstract shapes, the quick and bold execution of certain marks and lines, and the balance between all these elements.
What is your favorite medium?
I love working with oil paint sticks on linen and paper. It's the perfect combination of painting and drawing with this medium.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Nature has always been a source of inspiration. In the past, my travels contributed to feed my imagination. Today that is no longer possible, so the landscapes and the light that bounces around me, here in the French countryside, are my greatest inspiration.
How does the purpose (fabric or wallpaper) of the designs you imagine influence your artistic work?
It doesn't really change my artisticwork. One of the things I like about working with Pierre Frey is that this House respects the art. I make the work and if I like it and can imagine it in another function, I share it with the team and they have the imagination to take it further, to give it another purpose and a new life as wallpaper or fabric.
What is your background?
I am completely self-taught. I studied art history and have always loved art and the language of painting and drawing, but I have no formal training.
An anecdote, a memory of your collaboration with the Pierre Frey House?
I remember my very first meeting in Paris in the showroom with Pierre and Patrick. I had my sketchbook with me and I showed them my artwork. I had already met the charming Pierre, but it was the first time I met Patrick. I was quite nervous. I was very happy to see that they both took the time to look carefully at each page. As an artist, I was very happy to share my personal work with people who understood it and who obviously love art.
Is there a drawing you dream of painting?
If there is something i dream of painting, I paint it. I can’t dream of painting something and resist doing it. That would be impossible.
Joie de vivre & Eternel été collections