Univers des Arts, January 2023

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Full sun

A visual style that immediately catches the eye, a theme that never leaves him and that allows him to explore more than simple visual effects: authentic inspirations for staging, a personal way of painting the elements in their vivid, immediate character, from which he manages to summon a whole mental universe and this, without ever speaking to present it… Antoine Renault is on the way to building a monument of contemporaneity, supported by the atemporal breath that is so dear to our hearts.

His signature alone could summarize the visual intelligence of this painter and with it, justify all the interest that the public should unhesitatingly give him. A kind of glyph engraved in the hollow of a frank matter, deposited without artifice on the canvas as well as the rays of the sun on the surface of the ocean, his mark modestly evokes his initials, as if the hand at work expressed itself in silence, with the discretion proper to the sensitivities extirpated from the tumult. It is not a question of a process that minimizes itself but of a gesture that simply wants to « do », to give an account of something without having to proclaim it or defend it.

His signature is made of a unique line, which is both tagging and ancient lettering. Born in Nantes, Antoine Renault’s professional career has led him to live in various world metropolises. Traveling is not in itself a value, neither intellectual nor human, but the life offered by our greatest cities, crystallizing all that humanity can produce of low or of grandiose, can in the right hands and under the right eye, peg to the spirit the sense of measure, the awareness of the balances which make the true achievements. Years spent in New York, Barcelona, Amsterdam have necessarily to do with the falsely casual charm of his work, which abolishes the « trend » to be truly contemporary, refuses fashion to better precede it. His time spent in Soho during the Keith Haring years, his discovery of the Anglo-Saxon classics or the American painters who made the effervescence of the 1970s and 1980s, his passion for photography, whose taste for framing and good posing can be found without sacrificing his pictorial ambition, all of this contributes to the portrait of a man who is a true artist.

to draw up the portrait of an artist who seems to have found an original way where, usually, one finds only copy and standardization. Now living and working in Noirmoutier, his longtime home base, he invents images that reveal his maturity as a man and creator, but also the maturity that contemporary painting seems to have so much trouble finding. A self-taught artist trained by the assiduous observation of today’s artists he appreciates, such as the Americans Michael Carson and Mark Tennant or the Frenchman Thierry Lefort, Antoine Renault possesses a sufficiently solid technique to express himself with the degree of realism he desires, without ceding his purpose, knows how to give his place to the background of the white canvas with which he plays, accepts to raise his hand to let the image breathe, to reinforce the color to sing the elements, the sea and the light that are dear to his heart. He paints with acrylics to honor his spontaneity, but the question of the material is, after so many errors born of the post-modern period, finally become subsidiary.

The great questions that have marked figurative art for a century-and-a-half, from the appearance of photography to our non-fungible tokens, have finally been digested and we find ourselves in front of his canvases appreciating, as naturally as possible, « painting »; neither concept, nor decoration, nor an object of conservation or reaction, but really painting. Perhaps that is what post-contemporary is all about.

Thibaud Josset