« Youssoupha »
Text of the catalogue of the exhibition « Choices », Palais des Beaux-Arts, Paris, FR
Julien Beneyton is an artist with a passion for portraits. His subjects are working class men and women – steelworkers, immigrant workers, rappers – but also pop culture icons: a book on Breughel, the poster of a Sylvester Stallone movie… Uncommon in contemporary art, these subjects set his work apart, and within the tradition of social realism. Humanist in its concern for the humanity and dignity of its subjects, his painting is also identitary in that it presents itself as a “noble” representation of people who don’t generally have access to it. In his portrait of the rapper Youssoupha, the artist has brought together all the cultural signs through which the Congolese-born musician asserts himself.