The return of painting to France
The exhibition at Art Rotterdam commissioned by Lily Robert Gallery (Paris) takes cognizance of the current painting revival in France. I noticed during my first residency in Paris (’14-’15) that a younger generation of French artists is diligently devoting itself to painting. Whereas in the Netherlands the cliché prevails that the French don’t paint or it should be abstract and setting painting in question. In the text ‘The return of painting to France’, that I wrote for art magazine Kunstbeeld, I examine this resurgence. Bearing in mind the problematic French twentieth century relation to painting and what I call ‘Duchamp’s curse’ (the preference for conceptual art), I found the subject so interesting that I developed an exhibition proposal (for yet to be determined museums). That exhibition will feature about twenty-five young French painters who each adopt a distinct position.
Two painters from that planned exhibition are Elodie Lesourd and Julien Beneyton. Their work could hardly be further removed from one another. Lesourd’s, strongly influenced by conceptual art, stimulates thinking about the essence of art. Each of her pictures is the result of analytical thought processes. The particularities and the limitations of painting certainly play a role therein. The surface texture of Lesourd’s paintings are smooth and photographic in quality. She herself coined the term ‘hyperrockalism’ with which she indicates a symbiosis of rock and hyperrealism. Julien Beneyton, on the other hand, is a chronicler of everyday life. By portraying ordinary people in their habitat, he brings contemporary subcultures into view: Parisian and New York rappers, an Utrecht hobo, his colleagues at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam or French breeders of Limousin bulls. His panels are rich in details and texture and offer a feast for the eyes.
right: Julien Beneyton
Julien Beneyton, desk: Jonas Wijtenburg