Woods and steppes are intransigent landscapes that arouse ambiguous, diverging affects in humans: from claustrophobia to liberation, from vantage point to shelter. Attraction to danger on the one hand and lust on the other hand often converge in peculiar ways – as intimated by the 18th-century term “The Sublime”.
The practice of painting “dehumanised” landscapes, representing “pure” landscapes no human being has ever entered, let alone intervened in, is not a widely-spread tradition. Jean-Marie Bytebier’s oeuvre is to be situated in this uncommon modus.
The dark rim of the woods and the searing void of the steppes both attract and frighten humans. The human psyche presents this weird knot of contradictions that remains forever indissoluble. Yet this murky pool of contradictions does contain some glimmers of hope. The light spot. The source. These are small dots of hope within areas of darkness, of unbearable remoteness. Jean-Marie Bytebier’s work is in keeping with an old tradition, yet still touches contemporary man’s psyche.