Guillaume Bresson

18 May - 29 June 2019 Cloître Saint-Merri I & II - Paris

Galerie Nathalie Obadia is very pleased to dedicate a fourth exhibition to painter Guillaume Bresson, following his solo show at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), in New York, where the artist has been living since 2016.

Considered to be one of the most singular French painters of his generation, Guillaume Bresson presents a group of recent paintings realized in his New York studio. These attest to the evolution of his work from hyperrealistic street scenes to more imaginary territories. Via a system of representation derived from the teachings of Italian Renaissance and French Classicism, Guillaume Bresson portrays contemporary subjects-his striking depictions of society shift toward a form of oneiric lyricism, which, rather than rejecting the social world, transfigures it.

The corps-a-corps, a constant theme in Guillaume Bresson's oeuvre, is presented across a variety of settings that are more or less identifiable, more or less familiar or abstract: suburbia, a laundromat, the domestic environment of a kitchen, snowy woods that recall Pieter Brueghel the Elder's wintry landscapes, a stormy sea.

In the exhibition, Guillaume Bresson displays the different steps of his work process: perspective grids that remain apparent in the large paintings on canvas; smaller preparatory studies realized after sittings held with amateur models, which he subsequently rearranges at will. The artist also experiments with a photographic transfer technique, which constitutes the starting point of several paintings.

Within the paintings themselves, certain areas remain untouched, in contrast with highly detailed parts. This too contributes to a creative painting process that also becomes the very subject itself: Guillaume Bresson's paintings feed on the voids, which confer a deep and silent aura to the depicted scenes.

This highly contrasted work shows a distressing social reality, portrayed at times explicitly and at others symbolically: that of disinherited or marginalized people (often placed off- center on the painting itself), stooped under the weight of life or already lying on the ground, reminiscent of a descent from the cross transposed inside a crashing wave under a twilight sky. The result evokes contemporary migratory tragedies. While human contact is omnipresent in Guillaume Bresson's work and takes for example the shape of two young girls in profile, whose physical proximity brings to mind Giotto's kiss, its absence is all the more remarkable in the way he paints the kind of existential isolation that prevails in often deserted areas. The theme of violence, recurrent in Guillaume Bresson's oeuvre, once again finds its full expression, yet its very ambiguity is more conspicuous than ever.

Through a style of painting characterized by parallels and deviations, Guillaume Bresson subtly thwarts expectations and manages to magnify his subjects, while always remaining true to a sort of contemporary realism, to which he confers its proper and masterful form.