Past: February 27 → April 2, 2016
Babou: A balancing act between motifs
Christian Baboulène, known as Christian Babou or simply Babou always worked in series. So it is perfectly logical that Semoise Gallery, two years after having shown Residences Prestiges (1971-1974), Ornements (1974-1977) and Dômes (1976-1980), should continue with Entraves (1984-1987) and Bastides (1987-1992). This choice becomes an even more obvious when one realises that in French, Babou’s series follow on from each other like a literary concatenation: marabout-bout de ficelle-selle de cheval*. All of which falls perfectly into line, since horses, saddles, harnesses and stirrups form the subject of Entraves, which later leads into the Bastides series.
“He used to go up on the roofs with his father, a roofing craftsman. That’s where his fascination for architecture and architectural details came from,” remembers Elizabeth Krief, whose gallery represented the artist for almost twenty years (1976-1995). This is how houses led him towards the rooftops, rooftops towards cupolas and gargoyles, gargoyles towards animal ornamentation and animal ornamentation towards fetters and hobbles before returning to architecture. Thus the circle is closed and the different stages can be seen as so many pretexts for reflection on the boundary between the truly figurative and misleading abstraction, opportunities to play on space, composition (the Golden Ratio), contrast, light and colours used to illuminate certain elements and tone down their contexts. In short, painting, which was always Babou’s unique obsession.
The colours are the key elements in the Entraves and Bastides series. In Babou’s work, in the same manner as his series, the chromatic hues lead from one to the next. To achieve this effect, he created a mixture of colours for one painting, then added a new hue for the following painting and continued this process throughout the series. This is why we never find the same tonality in two works and his colours alternate between warm and cold.
Once we are aware that Babou used a numbering system for placing the different tones, we better understand how this great lover of painting created his own architecture based on an analytic and conceptual pillar on the one hand and on a second founded entirely on feeling and emotion, driving him to paint in numerous layers in order to achieve the desired effect. A true balancing act of motifs, Babou produced an oeuvre, which creates the perfect balance between the theoretical and the senses.
Christian Baboulène was born in July 1946 in Villeneuve-sur-Lot and died in Paris in May 2005.
- Translators note : Marabout, length of string, horse’s saddle.