Emmanuel Deriennic


Born 1908 in Guingamp – FRANCE. Died 1965.

A clerk in a bank in Brest, he married his cousin and opened a grocery store. The business was unsuccessful and the couple divorced. Emmanuel went back to being an accountant assistant and remarried in 1936. After the war he began drinking and tried to go to rehabilitation programs, in vain. His mental state was further aggravated by a serious skin condition. In 1958, he suffered from partial paralysis, which contributed to the deterioration of his emotional health. He was hospitalized in Quimper for hallucinations and diagnosed as “paraphrenic”. In 1963, he was allowed to leave the hospital but neither his wife nor his children were willing to take him back. He spent the rest of his life living from a modest pension at his sister’s home. Emmanuel Deriennic started drawing after he was almost fifty years old. He used oil paint, soon replaced by ink. Calligraphy is at the center of his work. Using feathers as brushes or even his fingers, he diluted Indian ink with water to trace letters. He used all kinds of supports, for example an oilcloth, and more importantly, he incorporated in his works traces of his medication : pharmaceutical solutions, broken pieces from phials or crushed pills. The meaning of these ritual incrustations is a mystery. We are struck by the extraordinary connections of the forms in his production : faces of women are interwoven with letters, animals or objects from everyday life.

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