Drawings and paintings
I have been working on different series since I moved to Cape Cod. First of all, I let the ocean move me and echo with my inner search of wonder in creation. A series called "Horizons" was born and I am still working on it. I also explored more explicit sacred art themes such as sanctity as well as the Eucharist.
The pen and ink Psalms series depicts mountains as the place of theophany (divine manifestation). “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place?» asks the voice of psalm n°24. The mountain is the place of meeting with God. In the first Book of Kings (19-11), Elijah is called to go and stand on the mountain : « The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. » In this series, I hope to offer a possible place of meeting with the Presence where all who wish may spend some time and experience something of the divine.
This series is an illustration of Meister Eckhart’s Granum Sinapis, a medieval poem, and in fact the only poem the spiritual Dominican master ever wrote. I have chosen to present diptychs showing the text and a geometrical composition in black and white on one side, and on the other, a color portrait of Christ. In recent years, Meister Eckhart’s writings have grown in visibility and success in Western countries and have been quoted in books whose authors would reject Christian tradition. One explanation for this trend is that Meister Eckhart, being a master of apophatic theology, did not make frequent direct reference to the figure of Christ. It cannot be disputed however, that the he could not have written a single word without Jesus-Christ as the center of his theology as well as of his spiritual experience. I have decided to show faces of Christ to represent the other side of the apophatic coin, namely, the incarnate nature of God which gives Meister Eckhart’s work all of its coherence for contemporary perception and understanding.
Other work in pen and ink or graphite drawings
Moving from the natural world of clouds, sun, and rain to exploring human nature, I start by observing what is outside of me until new images emerge within me. In these explorations, I think I am searching for Presence. I can express this seeking through images of the radical expression of suffering, in rigid, hieratic portraits, and/or in the multiplication of beings, the crowd.
Inversion is a series of “unstained” glass panels. It was created for an exhibit in Paris whose theme was Time and Eternity. Save one piece, which is now part of a private collection in France, the series will be shown in its entirety at the Dadian Gallery in Washington DC in the Fall of 2016. In order to address the theme, I had felt the need to invert traditional elements; to speak of time and eternity felt impossible without what could be seen as a mental trick.
The title Inversion comes from an unusual use of glass and lead for the structure of the piece. It is no longer glass surrounded by lead that is the subject, but the lead itself. Johannes Schreiter, whom I admire very much, had opened the way in the 60’s, using long lines of lead that extended over the glass they held, thus no longer serving a structural function but becoming a pure element of composition. Further, in my series, I have inverted the habitual lighting pattern of stained glass. Instead of gaining transparency from a backward source of light, light comes from the front, causing the glass to project the shadow of its texture and the shape that has been imprinted into the glass onto a white backboard.
The glass conducts its shadow in its transparency like a parable evoking an echo of the Presence in eternity. The lead becomes the event held by the Presence in time.
For Stromatoliths I was influenced by the work of Henri Guerin, the French master of the dalle de verre, or faceted glass slab technique, and whose compositions succeed in the incredible exploit of making the heavy, difficult materials of cement and glass seem airy and light. For my work I chose to take inspiration from the form of the geological accretionary structures called stromatoliths, which in nature date from more than three billion years ago. The cubic structure is dressed with shards of dalle de verre, bringing to mind the elegance and profusion of wisteria flowers. Expressed through this sculptural piece is a similar movement from heavy to light, from old to new. We are reminded of the sacred element of creation through the presence of a cube in the center of the center and engraved with John’s gospel prologue. The Trinitarian structure of the work serves to evoke what was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
Stephane’s slate pieces express the contrast between an opaque, heavy, dark material – slate - and a light, transparent, bright element - glass. He has created a series on the theme of the island, affixing slumped, kiln-formed glass pieces to the slate using transparent silicone which takes on a white, milky texture with time in order to portray the daunting movement of the ocean. This work is particularly relevant in the context of climate change, which is especially affecting small island developing states.
The more I work, the more I realize how attracted I feel to the domain of sacred art. This does not exclude any tradition, but as a Catholic Christian, I am deeply touched by the mystery of incarnation that invites every believer to hold together two contradictory elements along the way to sanctity: the certainty of the Presence of the divine in the world and inside every human being and, at the same time, its inability to be felt by my senses.
"Grace is everywhere" said the 19th century French mystic, Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus. I try to reach that point of presence where silence is inhabited by the Verb that expresses itself in its own mystery.
Through my drawings and paintings, I pursue this quest of the Presence by delineating space with strict black lines. I nourish a passion for lines. The traditional arts of the icon and illumination are my main sources of inspiration. I aspire to create work in which contemplation takes the viewer to a space beyond representation. Contemplation leads to adoration. The image is never adored, but the truth that is revealed through it is.
Stéphane had been working for several years as a graphic designer in his own studio when he came to the point where he had to make a profound change in his life. This turning point took place in the context of deep personal and spiritual evolution. He was in search of light, so he would go and look for it as much in his professional life as in his personal one.
He started by studying the art of glass in Paris, France - the city where he was born and raised. After training for one year full-time in a Parisian glass studio, he continued to learn, improve technical skills, and gather inspiration during an eleven-month travel study with his wife through India, the Middle East, and Europe. He practiced traditional and modern glass techniques as a guest artist in studios and university settings. Once back home in Paris, he started his own glass studio with his wife where they produced work for exhibit and commission. During this period, he won a competition for the creation of all the stained glass windows of a modern church located in Issy-les-Moulineaux, a suburban town of Paris.
At the end of 2014, he moved to the USA.
He settled in Maryland where he dedicated his time to prayer and his art, working mainly on two series, Psalm and the Granum Sinapis.
In May 2016, he moved to Massachusetts where his family lives. A fresh start so to speak.
Exhibitions / Commissions
• March 7 to 18, 2018 - Horizons and Psalms- Cultural Center of Cape Cod, Yarmouth, MA.
• February 14-March 4 2018 - Mutual Muses X: A Marriage of Visual Art and Poetry - Cultural Center of Cape Cod, Yarmouth, MA.
This exhibit featured the work of nearly 100 of the Cape’s finest painters, photographers, artisans, and poets inspired by one another’s creation.
• June 4 - September 8, 2017 - American Glass Now - 2017 - Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC.
A juried exhibition of Contemporary Stained Glass Sponsored by the American Glass Guild.
• August 29 to October 7, 2016 - Henry Luce III Center for Arts and Religion, The Dadian Gallery - Washington DC
" Wondrous Desert " - solo exhibit.
• April 25 to May 8, 2011 - Merle Moqueur – Paris 11, France
" Transparence et Vérité " - group exhibit.
• April 10 to April18, 2010 - Maison des Associations – Paris 11, France
" L’art dans tous ses éclats" - group exhibit.
• December 16 to December 19, 2009 - Bastille Design Centre – Paris 11, France
Le Génie de la Bastille. Invitational.
• March 14 to March 22, 2009 - Marais Chrétien, Eglise Saint Denis du Saint Sacrement – Paris 3, France
" Temps et éternité " - invitational exhibit with Heidi Scheffler, Ghislain Picart and François-Xavier de Boissoudy
The vertical labyrinth proposed by Stéphane and his wife, Heidi Scheffler
• September 2008 - Church of Saint Bruno – Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
Trinity windows. Winner of call for tender with Carlo Roccella, project owner. Collaboration on design, execution, and installation.
• July 10 to July 26, 2007 - SEMA (Society for the Encouragement of Craft) – Paris 12, France
Horizons Créations. Invitational.
• 2006 - 2007 - ArtM Gallery– Paris 14, France
• December 2005 – American Church – Paris 7, France.
• November 2005 - Lion's Club International – Montigny le Bretonneux, France.
Salon d’automne. Invitational.
• July 2005 – The Artisan’s Guild of Cape Cod – Osterville and Orleans, Massachusetts.
Summer outdoor art shows. Guest artist.
• May 2005 – Biennale Internationale du Vitrail – Bourg la Reine, France.
Verre Printemps. Invitational.
Stéphane Ruault has written several articles for the magazine Architectural Glass Concepts and has been part of the magazine’s advisory board since its inception. To quote the editor's presentation, "the conceptual framework of the magazine was shaped with the goal of bridging the gap between trade knowledge, sciences, and fine arts as they relate to the use of glass in architecture. The publication examines a wide variety of historical and contemporary accomplishments in the development of glass technology, and specifically environmental design, environmental co-efficiency, transparent thermal barrier technologies, optics, the social aspects of glass architecture, and the growing role of fine arts in the shaping of this field".
- 2012 - Volume 5, issue 2 - Photographs for Fabiola Lozano's article "Adolphe Lacroix";
- 2011 - Volume 4 - Article "Lamberts: The Mysteries of Bavarian Glass" and photographs for Heidi Scheffler's article "Searching for gold in architectural glass";
- 2007 - Volume 1 - Article written with Heidi Scheffler "History of Middle Eastern stained glass".