This October, you'll be able to see for the first and only time the remarkable work of French-born artist Henri Barande in the UK, thanks to a free solo exhibition at London's Saatchi Gallery. Both intriguing and stimulating, Barande’s artistic practice is as unique as it is compelling.
“He is the 'absent one' who wishes simply to disappear behind his work and thereby procure his own annihilation,” exclaimed Henry-Claude Cousseau, Director, École des Beaux-Arts.
Barande’s creativity first emerged when he was a child living in Tunisia, where he played among the ruins of the ancient Phoenician capital of Carthage. His practice is dedicated to exploring the dialogue between life and death, the found and the fabricated, which led to the creation of a world of miniature forms and figures.
These small sculptures have since been buried at an undisclosed location or destroyed by his own hand, carefully and purposefully concealed from view. From this seeming act of destruction has arisen a stunning array of monumental paintings, many of which employ motifs from the ‘lost’ sculptures. Distant and yet intensely absorbing, the luminous canvases initiate a provocative dialogue between the abstract and the figurative.
Despite the fact that he is prolific, Barande initially sought anonymity. For fifty years he kept his work private so that his achievements remain largely unknown to the art establishment. His works are unsigned, undated and untitled, and they are not for sale. This freedom from commercial considerations has allowed him to pursue his artistic goals without compromise, to disappear behind his work.
Barande’s original decision never to exhibit his work, even to destroy it, has allowed the artist an extraordinary degree of creative freedom. Some twenty years ago the American curator and critic David Galloway persuaded Barande to share his vision with others – first through publications, then through exhibitions. Barande will only show his work once in any single country, and the exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery will be the only chance to see his work in the UK in his lifetime.