This inaugural UK solo exhibition of the French artist Emmanuel Barcilon will showcase works of varying dimensions, which have been executed on wood panels using pure pigments and varnish over both floors of the gallery. Emmanuel Barcilon’s new body of work invites the viewer to explore painting and meditate on the force of colour.
Colour, beyond figuration, has always been a fundamental element to an artwork’s value and appreciation. Barcilon’s work – as Ad Reinhardt’s black paintings from the 60’s, first strike the viewer as monochrome fields of solid colour, but upon a closer glance contrasting shades start revealing themselves. Emmanuel Barcilon can take almost a year to complete a painting as colour is poured over a wooden support then sanded and reworked over time, each fresh coat never completely eliminating the previous one. This gives a sense of memory to the pieces, which in some instances is immediately visible, whilst in others almost imperceptible to the naked eye. The answer to understanding the artist’s work lies in the amount of concentration devoted to its study.
The use of wood as Barcilon’s chosen support and the preciousness of the pieces’ surfaces, take us to the jewel like quality of 15th century Flemish panel paintings. The paint often wraps around the edges of the artwork and sometimes extends beyond the canvas, running free from the constraints of the wood; this gives a whole other dimension to the works, which as a result assume a sculptural quality.
A number of the artist’s paintings contain scientific drawings or random thoughts scrawled across the surface. These marks of intimacy are often testimonies to his intellectual inner life. Barcilon invites us to share that same curiosity, which inspires him to create these works. He is not interested in being didactic but rather adds another ingredient to that same meditation, which he demands of us as viewers: to fully enter into his universe.
Emmanuel Barcilon’s paintings explore the unsaid and unsayable. His art offers a world of endless depth, inviting us to embark on our own individual journey as we navigate through its endless mysteries.