In the wake of the invisible
Antoine Dubruel was born in Bordeaux in 1977 in a family which had a strong inclination for Art and Culture. Antoine, following his father’s footsteps very early specialized in Law. However, disappointment came when he realized legal matters were not his calling, that’s why he decided after graduating in International Law to begin Art studies at the university. Very soon the fact of being brought face to face with the Dutch masters and the masterpieces of the Impressionist and the post-impressionist school gave birth to an obsession to paint.
He chose, quite naturally, oil painting and started a career where the compositions are the products of a slow intellectual and sensory gestation. He attended the Beaux Arts in Toulouse which gave him the opportunity to meet Jean Louis Ducros, a painter and an Emeritus Professor who taught him the history of oil painting and its traditional techniques and among them, the grinding of colours. He then started a Master in Modern Art, choosing a subject which was relevant to his own researches on the processing of fabrics in the Italian painting of the 15th and 16th centuries.
In order to finance his studies, Antoine worked for a year at the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse which allowed him to spend a lot of time every day with, in particular, the painting works of the 20th century. As he was always keen to be in keeping with his choice, he started learning the trade of interior painter and decorator and took part in the rehabilitation of a block of flats dating back to 1913.
Translation : Pierre Costecalde.
Biographical notes and exhibitions
As he was studying Law (Political Sciences Speciality : international relations) some ten years ago in the heart of Lauragais, Antoine Dubruel dropped a future career in Law to indulge in Art studies which were closer to what he wished to achieve. He first developed his art in the depths of his studio, feeding on visual impressions, memories of his past trips and of his special relationship with nature. Taking a close look on the Old Masters’ masterpieces and the latest evolutions of painting, he has gradually adapted his own style of painting on which recurrent but always personal patterns bearing his hallmark is drawn.
The man acknowledges his masters Monet, Van Gogh, or Nicholas de Stael, or Chaim Soutine without forgetting Hiroshige and Hokusai inan approach oscillating between the tradition of grinding pigments of colours (which are afterwards mixed with oil in the Ancient Masters’way) and an innovative treatment of his subject. Actually if Antoine Dubruel prefers to resort to oil only, it is because he knows how to find with this matter the perfect means to express the light which radiates through his paintings which keep mutating according to the seasons and his state of mind. His paintings finally become the fruits of a slow intellectual and sensory development which, after having given more importance to the body turns now towards landscapes which are mentally created.
Tightrope walker, such are the words which can describe the artist, as if he found himself hanging in the air when he is about to create. In this way, the tight rope is fixed above a canvas that the painter wants to be wide as it lets the body free as well as providing it with an « excessive » body language, thus it allows the first preliminary sketch, first drawn in pencil, then in Indian ink, in order to combine shapes, colours and material.
So, Antoine Dubruel’s paintings, with compositions made of « dreamlike abstractions » lead us to the heart of ghostly transformed landscapes when freedom of gesture and powerful colours are combined in paintings which some people will describe as being midway between figurative painting and dreamed of landscapes. One thing is certain, light, material and balance, more often a loss of balance, are the keystones of his work.
Antoine Dubruel has lived in Sète for several years. He unpacked there, moved by the brutal and heart-breaking strength emanating from the town which is both a place of no-return and of infinite possibilities. From the top of his studio, set high up between the Etang de Thau and the sunlit sea, the painter followed his line of thought towards far away horizons, towards the Mediterranean sea which puts a spell on him with its boundless expanse but also towards the Causses and the surrounding mountains which give some fresh air and revegetate his paintings a little more everyday.
So, Antoine Dubruel’s painting is and remains the only radical and tortuous chosen path which leads the artist to the place where the hand and the mind can express their entire freedom.
Now, the painter’s workshop is situated in Lozere, near the ruins of an old castle, in the middle of a wild and powerful nature, new and inexhaustible inspirational pattern.
In August 2008, he organized his first exhibition in Gordes, in the Lubéron before exhibiting his paintings in Marseille, then in Paris in September 2012 at the Monod Gallery and lately in 2014 in Rodez (north of Aveyron) at the Artives Gallery, close to Soulages’s Museum and near big names like Pierre Soulages himself (lithographies), Hans Hartung or Zao Wou Ki.
In autumn 2014, he shows his work in several others galleries : A Cappell’Art, Salon des Arts, Passage à l’Art in Millau (Aveyron). Then, Antoine Dubruel, settles his inks and oils in the South, in Lodève (Hérault), at the gallery O Marches du Palais, a former chapel of the White Penitents, which was turned into a wide, flooded by light Gallery. The artist continues on his way and shows his work in May 2016 in the Salle Costantini next to the Museum of Millau as well as on the Mont Saint-Clair in Sète, in front of the sea, at the beginning of summer 2016.
In May 2017, his paintings are present in the medieval village of Conques (North of Aveyron) in the European Art Center. In September 2019, he shows his new creations in a public place : the Espace culture in Millau (Aveyron).
Upcoming projects : Exhibition at the Chapelle des Dominicaines in Carcassonne (Aude) in May 2021, several links with others heritage places in France and beyond borders, especially in Ljubljana (Slovenia).
What strikes me the most is that you stage a nature that is particularly alive, primeval, as if your vision retrieved the memory of a primarygeological time. But, perhaps, a sign of the time, the viewer may have the feeling that these recollections could well be the harbinger of a gloomy future.
If your landscapes are not « lively » according to the usual meaning of the word in painting (the human being seems to be pushed away, in the margins). They appear as if they were inhabited by one does not know what kind of (evil?) forces, one does not know what kind of threats are silently scheduled. The sharp shapes prevail and a sort of tectonics of coloured beaches seem to work in order to blow up the surface of your canvases.
The painter tries hard to reveal another more profound dimension which runs deep behind the figurative appearance of his work and which is present even if it is difficult to figure out. Whether his achievement is suggested by the title or by means which are purely plastic, or else by the conjunction of these two factors, he inhabits each of the paintings which are exhibited.
Brutality and tenderness of the drawing, yearning for boundless horizons, tragic humanity. Lines everywhere, looking like scratches which are slashing a canvas and yet, often, what a lightness, like somepetrification whose effects are mirrored in glasswork, but, at the same time, these effects would render all failure to act impossible.
[…]Down below, some claws are battling in hordes, fantastic figures, shapes and colours which often choose to avoid one another; they are slipping in between, heading for what is possible in the instant, they are sometimes spreading, but nothing is certain since everything is on the move like parts of lithospheric plates: overlapping, gliding, climbing, rustling […]sudden thrust of the black colour which makes what was already in ruins, topple and collapse. Is it the sound of trampling of what is already dead? What’s the use? but isn’t it the situation we are living through today : this feeling of never being able to destroy, to erode the same real, thought over, imagined territories in order to attempt to give birth to something else ?
Gilles Desnots, playwright
[…] a symbolic expression, a bit esoteric, an echo of Antoine Dubruel’s « romantic » expressionism
Christophe Liron, visual artist, gallery owner