Raphaël Bouyer, painter of consequences

Conséquence,  Sans titre, oil on canvas, 116x79 cm

Raphaël Bouyer is a young visual artist from Toulouse region, South of France. He is realizing mostly oil paintings, drawing powerful but disconcerting subjects in a surprisingly realistic way. The artist is staging natural or unatural disasters, results of an over-consuming society that has sinking in materialistic consideration, in a timeless and glorified composition. His canvases are contrasting and materializing the denunciation of our current mortiferous approach of the world. When you go through Raphaël Bouyer work, you are exposed to trains that are knocked over, pipes scattered in natural landscapes, to car accidents, dozens of tires spread out in the sea, to some ruins of cities lost in waves or to characters in CBN suits. All representations seem like captured in gorgeous natural frames as if they were photographs of a unique moment. These combinations appeal to different imaginaries and excite the curiosity of the audience with their both surprising and unnatural aspect. Each creation has a very powerful and specific sense of narration to make the audience aware of the event happening. The audience is enthralled to imagine the story behind each strange scene and to think about the poetic aspect of these disasters. His works lead us to dream but also frighten us about the ambition of a terrible civilization overwhelmed by the magnificent and all-mighty nature. 

Conséquences, Sans titre, oil on canvas,100x82 cm

 Conséquences,  sans titre, oil on canvas, 50x70 cm

Could you briefly tell us about your artistic path?

I started painting when I was 16 years old, I took oil painting lessons with Jeremy Annett in Toulouse for 7 years. I began to be thrilled by the technic at this very moment – although I have drawn since my childhood. That’s why I naturally engaged in an applied/plastic art formation in the Beaux Arts school after having graduated from high school. I also follow some painting workshops at the Slade summer school of London in 2011. However, I have never been particularly keen on the way art school are teaching and quickly stayed away from the academic process. I felt my work deviated from the current trends, so I decided in 2012 to forge my own career path, learning from diverse documentations to become a professional painter/artist. This choice was really well received as I won the Toulouse art competition in February 2013 along with the Golden Palm. It paved the way for some exhibition opportunities, especially during the same competition the year after.

 Ordinary lives, La chasse au papillon, oil on canvas, 100x100 cm

  La partie de pêche, oil on canvas, 130x89 cm

Could you detail the technics you like working with?

My canvases are all realized with oil painting and my drawings are composed with pencil and pen on paper.

Hiroshima mon amour,oil on canvas, 92x65cm

I could notice some repetitive topics in your creations as trains or people in CBN suits, surrounded by nature background: what are they depicting to you? Furthermore your canvases often show a post-apocalyptic world: is this a way to warn audience about the global environmental concern or just a personal appropriation of a specific universe?

I don’t really like the time we are living in. I always got the feeling to be in this fast-paced environment I can’t follow and I’m not free to express whatever I want. I feel pretty out of this system and I trust it is the sensation emanating from my creations. The chosen setting in my paintings illustrated a world I have fantasized about and idealized. The enhanced landscapes or the chilled scenarios are constantly in contrast – even in conflict situation sometimes – with specific patterns that could evoke about disasters resulting from bad environmental management or over-consuming behaviors. This confrontation can indeed show a post-apocalyptic approach but it is for sure resulting from my personal inner conflict.

Ordinary lives, Les jumeaux, oil on canvas, ,100x73 cm

Ordinary lives, Pêche en eaux troubles, oil on canvas, 116x81 cm

How do you chose topics you want to expose? What is the paradigm you want to pass on the audience?

I chose my themes depending on the news, for instance trains accidents. I extract them from their actual context and arrange them in a visual and dynamic way. Even if there is definitely a dark side in my compositions, I try to bring irony to the subjects by staging the ludicrous aspects of the situation and highlighting it. I like to think my creations call out the audience curiosity and make it questioning of what could have happened. Keeping a part of mystery is important. Of course, one could see a manner to highlight a societal ecological dimension which kind of reflect my personal thinking and reflection but I want the spectator to feel free interpretating my works.

Conséquences, Sans titre, oil on canvas, 80x80 cm

 Conséquences, Sans titre, oil on canvas, 80x80 cm

How does the artistic creation influence our social behavior according to you?

The art is a form of language, a way to communicate emotions and I think the art creation is indeed influencing our social behavior. It provokes questions, a reflection on the world that surround us and sometimes help to better understand it. I would say the art creation is steeped in society and the society is steeped in art creation (or at least, should be considered as such). The artistic creation allows a person to better understand one self and what is happening around us, the world we live in.

Ordinary lives, La grande déprime, oil on canvas, 80x80 cm

 Ordinary lives, La décision, oil on canvas, 100x100 cm

What are the main artists, themes and trends you take inspiration of?

I don’t really drg my influences by other artists or at least not that I am aware of. Actually, I don’t really think about it, the inspiration is here, that’s all. If I have to make reference to an artist I may particularly like, it would be Romain Bernini, because I am fascinated by his universe, especially by the color and atmosphere he uses. His character representation and uncommon staging helped me to build-up the figure of the men in CBN suits. Of course I also visited lots of museum and saw many exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, which, I believe could have influenced my work in a way.

Ordinary lives,  La trace, oil on canvas, 72x100 cm

Série l'avatar, Waterworld, oil on canvas, 80x80 cm

Would you like to mention any previous or in-progress work in particular?

I strongly hope for associations, groups and communities support and art gallery partnerships to enhance my career in the near future. I will be exhibiting some of my works in September 2015 and I keep looking for art galleries that could be interesting as well as I network a lot within the artistic domain. I also participate in a project called Ardera which goal is to present on a website my works with an associated-music made by two friends of mine.

 Conséquences, Sans titre, oil on canvas, 100x100 cm

In his paintings, Raphaël Bouyer is materializing a unique pictural universe where fantasized disasters are consequences of the underlying loss of balance between culture and nature. The artist thus creates an intense iconography, pushing for individual reflection on the world we are living in, leading to a very actual questioning. This approach directly echoes some of his peers, striking the audience’s eyes by the aesthetic aspect of his canvases but also thanks to their mysterious and uncommon side. I would strongly advise the reader to take a look at Raphaël Bouyer’s website and learn more about his work. 

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