From 18 September to 31 October 2013 - Galerie Claude Lemand

  • Benanteur, Soleil couchant

    Soleil couchant, 1994. Oil on canvas, 114 x 146 cm. Monograph page 181. Donation Claude & France Lemand. Museum, Institut du monde arabe, Paris. © Abdallah Benanteur. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.

  • Benanteur, L’attente.

    L'attente, 1993. Oil on canvas, 89 x 116 cm. Monograph page 170. © Abdallah Benanteur. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.

PROLOGUE . Texts by Marc Hérissé

Benanteur’s paint­ings are mag­ical, poised between abstrac­tion and fig­u­ra­tion. Transparent, glowing with count­less colours and always asso­ci­ated with a pre­cious pris­matic refine­ment, they recall, without ever actu­ally showing them, Brittany’s end­less spaces, the sea and the deserts before which this painter dreamed throughout his Algerian youth. Poetry is a con­stant in this artist’s noble and sin­gular world, about which Youri wrote so tellingly : Magnificently aloof, far from groups and modish cliques, he invents his own space, cre­ates his per­sonal time.

In the eighties, the works painted by this great artist dazzle us with frag­ments of splin­tered lights. Here we are at the very core of true impres­sionism, beyond any fig­u­ra­tion, that fig­u­ra­tion which the painter was to dis­cover later on, and which he learned to express in such an allu­sive and sen­si­tive manner after his travels in Italy. Do I mean that I prefer this period to another ? No. I love Benanteur alto­gether, for that splendid dim­pled touch which lets the entire prism’s iri­des­cence shine forth.

From year to year, the Algerian artist, born in 1931, enchants me ever more through his increasing sure­ness of touch. This painter, who has superbly mas­tered the syn­thesis between fig­u­ra­tion and abstrac­tion, over­whelms us by two huge polyp­tychs, simply and enig­mat­i­cally enti­tled Triomphe. These works, in which some might see a har­mo­nious com­bi­na­tion of colours, nonethe­less lead us, if we so wish, towards a large army arising from the shadows. This per­sonal pan­theon’s limbo affords us glimpses both of Rembrandt or Rubens, as well as friends alive or dead, cast for all eter­nity ; you can also see there a tute­lary mother-god­dess haloed in a lunar bright­ness. We might glimpse immense land­scapes in which one can find one’s way or lose one­self. He has enlarged his strokes, and, under the diaphanous trans­paren­cies, embracing the same water­colour-like flu­idity, the same light glazes, and beneath vaporous mists, light still surges like a sun in all its glory.

The under­lying nos­talgia of lost hori­zons, like in those “Pays - Paysages”, painted by the great Algerian artist, is but one of the facets of his inner world. His splendid oeuvre, uni­versal in its reach, is not only lim­ited to the recur­rent viewing of the sur­round­ings of Mostaganem. That is the depar­ture point for a jour­neying which the artist invites us to share with him. Our eye is forever flick­ering, mar­vel­ling, unable to dis­tin­guish the abstract from the fig­u­ra­tive, every canvas pro­viding, from one moment to another, a new approach: and so they are revealed to us, mul­tiple, poly­morphs, harbingers of mys­tery, which, like every major work of art be it dra­matic, sym­phonic, poetic or lit­erary, is so rich that one can decode it and inter­pret it in var­ious ways. Here the tondos, shown among the large square can­vases, are not an aes­thete’s enter­tain­ment, but a focal point, a symbol for the eye and its iris. The palette is iri­des­cent, diaphanous, airy, trans­par­ently vibrant, main­tained through a very sure touch, mas­terly, poetic and virile. Flashes of light, be they sunny or stormy, take you beyond the painting’s con­fines. One is reminded of Turner when faced with these shim­mering lights. It is quite another world, but it holds the same mag­ical quality.

Translated from French by Ann Cremin.

Two Books are avail­able:

- BENANTEUR, Monograph Volume 1. Paintings.
- BENANTEUR, Monograph Volume 2. Graphic Works

Copyright © Galerie Claude Lemand 2012.

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