Antoine Renault’s painting suspends time, catches the instant, the souvenir. Not in a nostalgic way, but to dip or dive in. Antoine Renault went to painting from photography he improved in the 80’s in New York, Keith Haring SoHo and Edward Hopper Long Island.
Back to France, husband and father of 3, he catches a brush for the first time from his grand mother who discovered the fun of painting at the age of 70. She is the one who initiated him, allowing him to enter this very intimate bubble. Her work was a testimonial of her little pleasures, pictures of her world, while he tried to catch the dune, sunsets and the warm blues of a summer at his dear island of Noirmoutier.
It’s in Barcelona, close to Sorolla’s shores for some years, that a passion for light and water develops. Reflections and transparencies become his favorite themes. « Light is my real motivation. Water is my favorite catalyst. Both are the guiding threads of my inspiration ». From then, his work becomes flow, movement, ripple… Antoine Renault focusses on slow motion atmosphere, time still on the beach, with a soft sensuality floating. His work constantly plays with the borders of realism. Yet, get closer to the canvas and visible brushstrokes push the reality back, offering space for emotions and echo. Born in Nantes in 1963, Antoine Renault is a self-taught painter. His series « Ocean Paintings » brings him international recognition in 2012.
“It all started with my Grand Ma and a summer with no wind”
“I went to painting like one goes to the beach. I’ve always gone to the beach hoping for strong winds. When top of holm oaks are shaked for good. Before reaching the beach, I had to go through the dune and pay a visit to my dear Grand Ma. I closed my eyes and could localize her with the scent of turpentine. There she was, with her easel set up in the sand.
That was in the early 90s. One of those hot sunny summer everyone would dream of. I was getting on everyone’s nerves, complaining about the low winds and obsessed by the next windsurfing session I could not wait to enjoy. My GrandMa was quietly painting on the dune as usual. I was driving her nuts. She asked me to join her, gave me a canvas and a brush and I made my first piece. A great memory of a bright summer day in my beloved island, with a mixture of turpentine and pine-trees smells in the background.
Since this very first painting, summer and ocean side atmosphere have always been in my inspiration. Sunny days and short nights, dune smells, slow time on the beach, … To paint this, for me, is like sharing feelings of freedom and happiness because this is just where I feel them best. I have not spent one year of my life without sailing in this bay. And actually all the key moments of my life happened on the ocean side, if not on the beach.
After some years working with oil and pastel, I moved to watercolor and eventually to acrylic. I simplified my palette at most, using exclusively the same 4 colors. Light, water, feelings and some subtle sexiness are what I want in my paintings.
Grand Ma finally stored her easel. She kept on inspiring and guiding her 30 grand children, and the 80+ of following 2 generations up to the age of 108! She died one day at apéritif time and sailed away to explore new places.