“Un artiste de proximité / An artist of local life”
Text written for the solo show catalogue edited in 2003, Galerie Alain Le Gaillard, Paris, FR
An artist of local life
Julien Beneyton is an artist of local life. He paints portraits, « genre » scenes, a subject or rather subjects surrounding him, his friends, people in his neighbourhood. In fact, it would be more apt to say that he surrounds them with all his natural attention. He paints real people, not shadows. His next work is his central preoccupation.
Constantin Guys, “the painter of modern life”, drew types, faces, roles. Julien Beneyton, painter of modern city, doesn’t generalize. He fixes his attention on his fellow man with all the affection that each individual is due. He portrays no-one in the plural. He looks at each individual and everyone can see themselves in his regard.
A while ago, Julien Beneyton could have been described as a “class” painter, and his art as “class against class” genre. Now that a part of contemporary art has become a NGO’s sector, his paintings seem even more untimely. Firstly, the paintings themselves are in pseudo-naïve style, as though painted in haste, or clumsily.
Secondly, his subjects are striking, situations which painting had long ago abandoned to photography, realities which no longer appeared on canvas. Lastly, the emotions aroused, a old humanism, a new humanitarism even.
Julien Bneneyton does not accept the world as it goes. The manner of his criticism is nevertheless distinct from the way other criticise the world. He is not a distinguished artist. He is very much a living part of the world he paints. His paintings rubs our noses in it. It offers asylum.