Raphaël Barontini


    • Male
    • Installation


    About the artist

    Lives and work in Saint-Denis
    1984: Born in Saint-Denis, France

    According to Raphaël Barontini, reality is already a collage in which space is an open addition of heterogeneous elements organized around the multicultural, the globalized and the ethnographic, in other words, an aesthetics of Diversity. This is what constitutes the point of departure, if not the foundation of, Raphaël Barontini's pictorial practice. This representation of the world is crystallized in the urban, and living in a suburban context is therefore a means of finding the vitality and movements of a modernity that is anchored in history and redefines itself through the collages of the present.

    Raphaël Barontini's works are thus the result of direct, immediate action which consists of concentrating the conditions of an apparition, of a quality of the present, through painting. With strata and interlocking, the represented subjects demonstrate an active force as well as an insistent presence.

    The experience is direct and in the immediateness of the apparition; silkscreen printing, painting and textile elements play out a combat theatrically, which is that of their specificity as media in the field of the visible as much as the expression of the energy engaged in being visible. Painting is doubly braced through the multiple origins of the subjects and objects represented, which, reunited in pictorial space, clash as much as they aggregate: a creolization, an exoticism theorized by Victor Ségalen as the aesthetics of Diversity: "Everything that, until now, was called strange, unusual, unexpected, surprising, mysterious, in love, superhuman, heroic and even divine, everything that is Other, putting the part of essential Diversity that each of these terms contains in a dominant position. For the term aesthetic, I uphold the precise meaning, that of a precise science, attributed to it by professional thinkers. It is at once the science of the spectacular and of the beautification of the spectacular; it is the most marvelous of the tools of knowledge. It is knowledge that can and must be nothing other than a means not to the beauty of the world, but that part of beauty that each mind, whether it wants to or not, contains, develops or neglects. It is vision of the world itself."

    With this in mind, Raphaël Barontini's pictorial work is part of the tradition of genre painting, carried out in a compulsive present and constructed through a succession of protean apparitions made of portraits and still lives charged with tragic expression. These apparitions are rooted in an iconography of power, at once symbolic and secular, between primitive masks and royal attributes, composed as literary signs.

    Here, as is the case with a photograph, action invites us to its celebration, the celebration of the living, the figures and bodies set down on the banners and canvases - bodies of anonymous giants and heroes possessed of a mythological energy, that reproduce the powerful gestures of a continuous humanity in the present. Raphaël Barontini's painting is defined by a quality of the present whose spectacular apparitions demonstrate the energy of "duende" as described by Federico Garcia Lorca, an energy that brushes against death and constitutes an incessant invitation to the risk of existence. The present constitutes the dramaturgy of pure loss of this encounter.

    Painting, as the scene of this encounter, encompasses history and fabricates the future. In this perspective, combinatory modes operate in which creolization as the condition of the world translates into an intensification of signs and figures in the pictorial field . These figures of the immediate present take form in the silkscreened planes, whose sharp focus registers against the pictorial reality of the canvas and the materiality of the textile support. Between attraction and absorption, "something happens in painting that does not happen in reality". The colored fields, macroscopic spaces in revolution, disrupt the representation of action and color, projected at the very end, installing flashbacks on the surface of the scene, the ultimate apparition and celebration of the present in action. By incarnating a symbolic power, the homeric representations and "still life characters" create a danger, undo or overturn hierarchical and historical representations, and as during carnival, these figures profit in the present from their roles as past heroes - parading, as they are, with masks on... In Raphael Barontini's work, pictorial apparitions are constructed in which the signs of reality are retranscribed as echoes, symbols and aggregates of culture.

    At this point, everything, this past, this present, this future, is to be celebrated.

    Mathieu Buard ©, 2011 Critic & curator.


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