The painting of Damien Cabanes builds its own world, like a language with no words, forging a dialect made of pigments and brushstrokes. He gives birth to captivating and vivid worlds that are unveiled in silence: no speech or narrative is needed. Thanks to the artist’s sensibility, the artworks, a priori made of trivial images, create a deep inner echo. They are bright colourful visions unfolded by the painter in the studio, emotions held then revealed on the canvas stapled on the white walls.
We must go back to the working, actual body—not the body as a chunk of space or a bundle of functions but that body which is an intertwining of vision and movement.
To capture a pose, a gaze, a suspended moment. The talent of Damien Cabanes is expressed in his ability to seize in one brushstroke the energy of a movement, the exact moment when the model is not posing anymore but simply living. With modesty, he catches the natural, fleeting and alive emotion. On the paper, he develops a space out of time, where sensations are dancing, completely free. It is a space where you can feel the tenderness of an exchange throughout layers of paint. In Damien Cabanes’ paintings, bodies are much more than just a balance of forces, shapes, proportions or occupation of a delimited space. They leave the sleeve of the model for the human one, which is made of sighs, silences and breaths. The eye and the hand of the painter seize the focal point between two persons, sublimating everyday feelings. Via this series of portraits, the artist is giving an intimate painting, where the human beings are metamorphosed on the canvas into an intertwining of vision and movement, of feelings.
The leitmotiv might be that I am never looking for an illustration of an idea but the embodiment of an emotion in every medium itself.
Stretched infinitely on the canvas, those gladiolas have nothing in common with a still life. They are not an inert picture but the pure sensation of flowers. The artist’s touch offers them a new vibration, almost a scent. They are microcosms becoming a macrocosm, an autonomous universe where flowers grow from the artist’s hand and never seem petrified. Alive, they are transcending and wrapping you. Freed from the real scale, the gladiolas are transformed into proper characters, draped in green, adorned with a never-fading red. The cut flowers spring on the canvas and the lifeblood of the painting turns them into immortal and alive pictures.
The studio in his offsite nature is not anymore the place of art, the one triumphant from the “real allegory” of Courbet, nor the on-going chance of Matisse: it is the chamber of the treasure of things carrying in its finiteness the “for-ever” mark.
The views of the studio in Damien Cabanes’ work are eternal patterns. As Donatien Grau said, the studio of the painter is the Chamber of the treasure of things, that in which he finds squares, stripes, sags and colours. Since his abstract works in the 1980’s to his more objective landscapes he has been reinventing shapes and colours fields in virtuous metamorphoses. Though he is inspired by real bags and objects lying languidly on the bare floor of the studio, the painter evicts the anecdotic. Out of time, the views of the studio are not narratives nor a manifesto, not abstraction nor figuration. There is no hierarchy of paintings, subjects or formats. There is only the alive colour remaining on the canvas, and the emotion beating inside.