Metro Weekly

Dining whilst surrounded by “Polar Bears”

Herve Maury's playful, distinctive animal artwork on display at Sofitel's iCi Urban Bistro


Exhibition curator Sophie Caporossi with Maury.

“The first time I visited the U.S., I came to Washington, D.C. I spent two weeks here,” says French artist Hervé Maury at Thursday’s opening of a special exhibition of his work at the Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square hotel.  In addition, to falling in love with the Smithsonian museums, Maury remembers waking on the the first morning of his visit by the sound of gospel music from a church next to where he was staying and recalls immediately thinking, “I’m in America.”

Maury’s work is recognizable for its playful animal subjects. His polar bears, elephants, dogs, dragonflies and schools of fish are full of poetry and tenderness and his pieces have been featured in exhibits around the world, including two previous shows in D.C., a city he has come to love. In 2006, his “polar bear” series adorned the windows of Hermès boutiques worldwide.

The paintings are made of French Mediterranean sun-washed colors, releasing softness and depth with unusual textures such as marble powder, sands or ochers, and are usually created on linen surfaces unless Maury incorporates recycled marine sails. More than 20 pieces are on display and available for purchase in the Sofitel’s restaurant, iCi Urban Bistro.

Sofitel_Macaron“We are so excited to offer this unique exhibit,” said Sofitel spokesperson Alexandra Byrne. “We strive to offer guest experiences that enhance our Sofitel pillars: design, culture and gastronomy. This will bring all of those pillars together in one place to satisfy all five senses.”

Inspired by the paintings, executive chef Franck Loquet has created his own epicurean artwork and is offering several special dishes during the exhibit’s run. The menu includes a choice of fava bean hummus with Lavash chips or lemon goat cheese mousse with black olive tapenade for an appetizer and a mixed fish grill or ahi tuna for an entree. Dessert is a vanilla and rose jumbo macaron. The 3-course prix-fixe menu is available for lunch and dinner and costs $45 per person.

“I love to create artistic dishes for our guests to enjoy,” says Loquet, “and Hervé Maury’s artwork was a great inspiration for me.”

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Troy Petenbrink is Metro Weekly's contributing writer for food and travel. He can be reached at

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