After graduating from Beaux-Arts Nantes almost 25 years ago, Lilian Daubisse has worked with corrugated cardboard, a low-key material at its best, which he transforms, exalting it in the manner of an archaeologist of the contemporary world determined to retrieve the priceless remains of a forgotten material. Following on from his set of stage costumes for the choregrapher Joseph Nadj and his fairy-like show windows for Hermès all over the world, he has produced sculptures and installations that have been shown regularly in galleries and art centres. Daubisse is a ‘maker’ artist who sings the praises of a material that is totally under-rated, precisely because it is so much a part of everyday production worldwide.

With the Lilian Daubisse touch, cardboard becomes rare and precious, a malleable support that lends itself admirably to the creation of worlds inhabited by fantastic creatures, suits of armour and inscrutable masks inspired by the Tribal Arts. The process is at once simple and complex, consisting as it does in cutting out, assembling, sewing, tying… and is always repetitive given the need to sculpt shapes by the accretion of hundreds or even thousands of delicately cut pieces.

The question of Art Brut might be invoked were it not for the fact that the artist begins more often than not by a phase of drawing, and sometimes, as in the case of large formats, by a model, thus introducing the notion of concept, system-wise, prior to the hands-on phase. To be sure then, here the artist is the maker of his work, because he imposes on himself the task of making it with his own hands – but his dexterity is driven by his thought, and it also obeys the imperatives of a preconceived project. There is no doubt that this is creation and sculpture, even if the quality of the material used does not belong to the canons of the fine arts.

Like so many of the sculptors who have gone gone down in history, this artist in cardboard reinstates the elementary and primitive gesture whereby life is given to a simple piece of stone or wood – an inert element for the rest of us -, in which he alone has sensed the power and the innate energy that will guide his hand to create a work of art. (…) — Jean-Marc Dimanche

Pursuing my work with corrugated cardboard, which from the start has been concerned with revealing an imaginary archaeology, what I want to do now is develop a more abstract universe that relies on installation. Because of this I was obliged to change scale and create a piece that has considerable dimensions: length seven metres, width three metres, height two metres.

The piece is carried on twenty wooden trestles, over which is fixed a wooden frame. Onto this I have woven strips of cardboard, like the fur of an animal, which cover the body of the frame.

This project was first presented in my studio and gives rise to various readings.

It can be seen as the ground plan in 3D of an unknown virgin island, which like the one exhibited at the museum of Fine Arts in Lille, may serve to found a defensive urban strategy.

Both works are made out of elementary materials: cardboard, wood and wire.

The exposed structure in wood that carries the frame and the cardboard fur suggest a more architectural interpretation: the entire set is like the huge tent of an unknown nomad tribe.

In this respect, the use of cardboard reminds us of the homes for refugees designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, which use the same material.

For me though, the piece projects the vision of some fantastic sleeping animal, whether it be interpreted as an ecological trophy or an allegory of our sleeping world. — Lilian Daubisse (2020)