Sébastien Bonin - DOCUMENTI


19/06/2020 - 19/07/2020

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Opening: February 19th 18:00 - 21:00

Born in 1977 in Brussels, where he lives and works, Sébastien Bonin graduated from La Cambre art school. His work has previously been displayed at the CLEARING gallery (2013), Island (2012-2014-2019), BOZAR in The Belgian Six exhibition (2014), Wiels in UN-SCENE III (2015), the Museum of Ixelles (2017) and the Michel Rein gallery in Brussels in 2019.
He works as an artist, photographer and painter.
One of the general characteristics of his work can be found in the creative process. Rather than simply snapping shots, Bonin is a craftsman, manually constructing his pictures. By reclaiming, deconstructing and rearranging iconic images, Sébastien Bonin tampers with Art History; he is inspired by it, questions it and is unpretentious in his quest to further it.
In 2012, he experimented with photogram techniques to produce non-figurative images; these techniques are considered to be the predecessor of photography. By playing with filters that are usually reserved for cinema or theatre, the artist creates configurations using bold colours. The possibilities are endless and unique, thus allowing Bonin to bridge the gap between the work of a photographer and that of a painter. He literally paints with light. Pictorial frames of reference are important to Sébastien Bonin who enjoys seeking inspiration from Colour Field Painting. He frees colours from their figurative function so that they can become the star of the photograph. Some of his photograms bring to mind the vibrant, colourful fields of Mark Rothko’s work.
The year 2015 marked a shift in Sébastien Bonin’s pieces: a new direction in which he turned to painting. This transition was magnificently displayed in the “Nychtéméral” exhibition at the Michel Rein gallery in January 2019.
However, the influence of photography remains present in Sébastien Bonin’s painted work: he may use the great painted masterpieces in Art History as a source of inspiration, but he also adapts their content by chopping them up, moving things around, and making certain aspects abstract, altering the original colours so that they echo the filtered colours of his photographic work. His painting borrows, extracts and redefines.
Looking at Sébastien Bonin’s paintings, we are hit by a feeling of familiarity with the depicted image. Small oil landscapes and features of Still Lifes break up the canvasses. Reminiscent of veduta from the Renaissance period, as a whole these pieces invite you to explore another world, an idea, an enigma – you can feel your thoughts run away with you.
Bonin’s pictorial sources come mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries. He dissects works of art, seeking to extract only the details and removing any content of a human form. Using expressive brush strokes of staunch assurance, the artist recreates the subjects on a small or large scale in some pieces. He blurs the lines in his approach to his artwork, “borrowing” and interchanging the titles he attributes to his pieces. In addition, the small landscapes or Still Lifes break from the norm and set the tone for large canvasses painted with Gesso. Some pieces mimic the format of an exhibition poster or even the cover of a well-known art book. Bonin’s game of “titles” reminds us of the surrealist humour of a Magritte, where words play on the image, tackling the content itself.
“Sébastien Bonin’s artwork is not about a senseless quest for something new, just to find novelty. Instead, his work pays an homage to the world of painting, to which he hopes to make a contribution of his own, never forgetting the rich heritage which came before him: the springboard which allows him to bound toward new possibilities.” (Claude Lorent, La Libre Belgique, Arts Libre, 16th January 2019).
It is clear, having looked at his sources of inspiration, that the artist also builds on his own beliefs and history. His encounter with painting, his opinions and visions of art, have set the groundwork for his own enigmatic language.
Two years of Sébastien Bonin’s work will be on display at the DOCUMENTI exhibition. Painted artwork and photograms will share their stories on the walls, as connoisseurs of the History of Painting revel in the experience of seeing each of his pieces portray small aspects of world art history and the legacy of the great Masters, including the pieces DOCUMENTA IX, Philippe Vandenberg or even Erased de Kooning, Erased Vandenberg, Erased Bonin…

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