Text from the catalogue of the exhibition « Délicatesse des couleurs » , 2008, Hangar-7, Salzburg, AT
The paintbrushes used by Julien Beneyton are extremely fine, similar to those used by Pisanello to chisel myriad flowers and by Van Eyck to refine the level of detail down to an invisible casement window in the distance. As for Julien Beneyton, he depicts a rapper’s outfit with such precision that the brand of his headphones is visible and even goes to show the inscriptions on a neon sign that would not normally be decipherable.
The link between old masters and the artist is a form of descent, not pastiche or recycling. Beneyton shares with the masters a desire to bring to the eye anything that can be shown. While old masters thereby celebrated divine creation, for Beneyton painting is the expression of a passion for reality and the people who inhabit it.
He paints rappers because he is close to them. But if he travels to Mauritania or Senegal, then he portrays the people he has come across and who have caught his eye.
Yet such a passion is only truly interesting in so far as it leads to painting, that is to say, in this case, to a transformation of all things into a purely visual world and, besides, to the ability to push its visibility to the extreme. This visibility reaches such a degree that, paradoxically, it becomes almost impossible for the eye to grasp. Stimulated all round, pulled in every direction and in every corner of the painting, the eye is put to the test : is it capable of comprehending things, of recognizing them and so of paying tribute to them ?
Thus the eye’s unrest is the artist’s, who is forever paying tribute to the world of posters, signs, tags, homeless people or shopkeepers, which all await their turn. Nevertheless, the slowness of paintings imposes is rhythm on the creation, reminding one that the urgency of the subject is always preceded by the requirements of painting.