Quentin Gouevic: Pour excaver la lumière

2 March - 6 April 2024 Cloître Saint-Merri I & II - Paris

Galerie Nathalie Obadia is delighted to present Pour excaver la lumière (To Excavate Light), artist Quentin Gouevic’s first solo exhibition in Paris.

Born in Saint-Brieuc in 1996, Quentin Gouevic seems to be one of those who tend to explore, through their paintings, a language of feelings. The exhibited paintings do not represent, nor do they tell. They embody themselves as “paintings of sensations, concrete and perceptible to the senses,” declares the artist. A new group of three resolutely abstract paintings unfolds across the exhibition space, continuing a reflection on the renewal of the very medium of painting, of trace, of gesture and of color in the pictorial field.

And yet, when Quentin Gouevic entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Nantes in 2019, he originally intended to explore figurative imagery. In the course of his experiments at the time – and still today as he pursues his research at the Beaux-Arts in Paris – the artist realized that his desire was not for representation; it was for painting. With undiminished energy, Quentin Gouevic now sets out to exploit all the possibilities offered by the pictorial field: “the quality of the brushstroke, of the materials, the balance and beauty of forms, the relevance of traces, the strength and impact of colors, the depth of transparencies, the accuracy of tones and, above all, the overall stature of painting,” he says.

From this desire springs a gestural and colorful painting, vigorously applied in broad brushstrokes, thickened by the multiple interplays of superimpositions, overlays and transparencies, and always rooted to the artist’s sensitive world. With extreme spontaneity, Quentin Gouevic experiments with something he calls “the deviations of painting”. He welcomes chance, the sometimes happy accidents that he modulates and works on, remaining alert to “silent suggestions and hidden paths,” he explains. The artist pushes boundaries, shifting the gaze to constantly renew it, sometimes turning his paintings upside down in order to reverse the locus of gravity. Ascending and descending drips deploy at the heart of the painted surface, destabilizing the viewer.

The artist’s physical commitment to the act of painting – sometimes to the point of exhaustion – certainly stems from his working-class past. Quentin Gouevic worked in a factory then a slaughterhouse for three years, before attending the Beaux-Arts in Nantes. Today, the artist maintains a very close relationship with his works: the painter and his painting come head to head with each other, with the interplay of movement and power. There is a political dimension, which is important to underline. In fact, the artist states, “My heritage, the only one I really cling to, is my work force. So my own painting is in the palm of my hands. And every day, I send my hands to drink synovial fluid from the sources of my substratum. This way, when they come to the surface, they help me find answers.” A message that gives palpable meaning to Pierre Soulages’s dictum: “It is what I do that teaches me what I am looking for.”¹

Beyond the pictorial challenges to which he devotes himself daily, painting represents for Quentin Gouevic an opening, a way of embodying himself in the world. By constantly searching, covering, renouncing, building and discovering, the artist commits his entire being, animated by a deep desire to go further in the pictorial field. Color bursts forth from these variously sized works, as Quentin Gouevic seeks to excavate light, wherever it comes from.


¹Alfred Pacquement, Preface to Roger Vailland’s, Comment travaille Pierre Soulages, Le Temps des Cerises, 2012, p.11