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23 March - 22 April 2023

In L’entrain du Marseillais, Brussels-based artist Julien Saudubray (1985) presents his new body of work from his series ‘Growing’, in his second exhibition with Valerius Gallery.

The artist explores the classical subject of flowers taking inspiration in Van Gogh’s sunflowers. The solar forms that thrive on light, are evident in Saudubray’s new series. The works appear to be illuminated by the sun. The title of the exhibition, taken from a letter by Van Gogh, refers to a certain simplicity regarding the enthusiasm of painting. The almost mystical approach to nature converges both artists.

JS: « I have had the idea for some time to paint flowers,
at least even if it is not directly visible, that is what I had
in mind for the exhibition. It's a classic subject in painting
and I think that every artist has to deal with it at one time
or another. I think of Alex Katz who painted Monet's water
lilies for example. How do you re-appropriate a subject painted
by another? »

The series titled « Growing », the same as his series « Watching » gives the feeling of an action. Growing - it’s a verb that is defined by constant change, which fittingly explains Saudubray’s painting process. The artist takes the works towards a more free form, with organic shapes and lines. His last exhibition in the US has been an important transition towards this new work, with drawing becoming more dominant.

Saudubray continues to use the means of geometrical abstraction but in a much more liberated and less formal way than in the shapes of the Watching series. Mental landscapes appear, always driven by an energetic thrust, almost like relations of electro-magnetic tensions like in physics theory the image of paired electrons. The idea of an energetic flow runs through the paintings and the elements reinforce each other.

The lines are painted in pastel diluted with gesso, then redrawn, while the oil paint is diluted with turpentine. It’s an empiric approach - painting, dilluting, re-painting - over and over again until the vibrations of the lines  and painted areas end up in a layer of monochrome paint surrounding the lines and forms into its finished result. The artist’s process is determined by ‘painting in the making’, not fixed, where each line and form, induces the next one by repetition and redundancy. The flat monochrome backgrounds are painted with several layers of oil paint and determine the final color that ends up being the result of the vibration of lines and colors forming a network of signs in the paintings.

The relationship to error, to errancy is always present within the forms which become more precise as the work progresses, everything or almost everything is visible. Transparency is a big factor here. The idea of growth and multiplication of oval and circular shapes evokes the plant world, but also cellular reproduction as well as constellation forms. There is a relationship to the organic, certain forms can evoke limbs and fragments of the body (eyes, tongue…).

The reflection around colour and light is and remains the driving force behind Saudubray’s work. Through the process of painting, dissolving and repainting, transparency allows the work to set itself free from the image and cultivate a relationship with temporality.

Julien has studied Fine Art at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris, in Paris, France. He has had residencies at MAAC, Brussels, Fondation CAB, Brussels, and Fondation Boghossian, Brussels amongst others. Recent solo shows have been at Anna Zorina in Los Angeles, USA (2022) and at NBB Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2022) and Waldburger Wouters, Brussels (2021).

Exhibited works


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