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Three contemplative painters to watch closely

To inaugurate this new section of our newsletter, we wanted to share our love for three artists we follow: Daichi Takagi, Brice Guilbert and Loïc Raguénès. Although very different, all three painters have developed their own contemplative vision based on subtle colors and minimalist landscapes at the verge of abstraction. This singular style stands out in a contemporary scene dominated by figurative paintings with bright colors. And yet, the latter are walking in the footsteps of a few successful contemporary artists with a similar pictorial universe such as Lucas Arruda and Matthew Wong. For these reasons, we believe that a bright future lies ahead of them.

1) Daichi Takagi

Wanderer, 2019, oil on canvas (120 x 160 cm)

Daichi Takagi is a young artist born in 1982 in Japan. He studied painting at the prestigious Tama University in Tokyo and started his career by producing colorful abstract geometric works. His first major influences were the Young British Artists (YBA) and German painters such as Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger.

In 2018, the artist presented his first paintings in a radically different style. The bright colors and angular shapes gave way to blurred nocturnal atmospheres reminiscent of Matthew Wong’s dreamy landscapes. Some of these new paintings were first exhibited in 2019 in Amsterdam were Takagi had recently moved. This stay in the Netherlands encouraged the artist to return to “the basics of seeing and painting’’ and get closer to his Japanese roots. Through his new paintings, he tried to represent himself “as a Japanese man and an individual” in a foreign environment—much as the black shadow standing in the bucolic landscapes of his recent works.

The Moon and Trees, 2019, oil on canvas (22 x 30 cm)

Daichi Takagi is represented by the Japanese gallery Kayokoyuki, which organized his last solo show during the NADA art fair in Miami. It was a real success as the booth was quickly sold out.

2) Brice Guilbert

Fournez, 2021, oil stick on wood (150 cm × 180 cm)

Brice Guilbert is a French artist born in 1979 who is both a painter and a musician. He draws inspiration from the landscapes of the Reunion island where he originated. Indeed, Guilbert grew up at the foot of the Piton de la Fournaise, the biggest volcano of the island. His works, which stand halfway between figuration and abstraction, are a visual representation of the volcano’s potential eruptions.

To create his pieces, the artist systematically applies numerous strata of pastel-colored painting until the light emerges from his compositions. He also likes to use unconventional color combinations which conveys a soothing and hypnotic atmosphere. Guilbert builds his own painting tools such as his oil sticks and canvases.

Installation view of Guilbert's show at Pace Geneva with a Lee Ufan Sculpture

The artist, who often paints his dreamlike landscapes on small canvases, is regularly compared to another successful contemporary figure with a similar practice: Lucas Arruda. Furthermore, Guilbert has close links with Mendes Wood—which happens to represent Arruda—and Pace. Both galleries exhibited his work and Pace even put some of his canvases next to blue chip artworks by Lee Ufan and Jean-Paul Riopelle during a group show in Geneva in late 2021.

3) Loïc Raguénès

An untitled work exhibited at C L E A R I N G in 2017

Loïc Raguénès is a French painter born in Besançon in 1968. He first experimented with pencil works in the early 2000s: he drew animals, film scenes, or reproductions of well-known masterpieces—such as paintings by Fra Angelico, who remained a major source of inspiration for Raguénès throughout his career—with dotted lines. During this period, he started limiting himself to a single color, breaking it down into different shades.

After moving to a small village by the sea in Brittany, he abandoned his pencils and started using gouache instead. He also gave up on his pointillist technique to create contemplative seascapes with wavy figurative lines on monochrome backgrounds. To do so, he uses tempera, a very ancient technique based on a combination of paint and egg. It helps the mixture dry more quickly—thus allowing for a few corrections—while adding density and nuance to his colored backgrounds and rhythmic patterns.

A seaside installation view at Patrick de Brock gallery

Although figurative, Raguénès’s seascapes are reminiscent of major abstract works such as Cy Twombly’s “board” paintings from the 1960s. The artist is represented by C L E A R I N G, an important gallery with prestigious artists in its stable such as Harold Ancart, Huma Bhabha and Calvin Marcus.



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