Passion Painting: Stéphane Pencréac’h

Figures in the space

Since the beginning of the ’90s, Stéphane Pencréac’h has been charting his own course in the then quite forsaken landscape of French painting with figures. His works are protean, style-shifting, but what makes them recognizable is a natural force that they irradiate. Pencréac’h cuts through space with a meat blade, shaping areas that may or may not be naturalistic, in which characters are vigorously living, completely present.

Look as Fin de Rome – one of my favourite paintings – the german shepherd are replacing Romulus’ wolves, one mouth jumps at us, bared teeth, devouring the space between the viewer and the surface. Juxtaposed, the red and black check pattern makes us feel like we’re on some kind of space boat in a storm. The cloud escapes from the window of a blue sky. The child is very flat though, as the other dog. I feel like a chicken who has lost its head, and I love it!
Instagram @stephanepencreach

Stéphane Pencréac’h answered my questions.

How do you start your day?

Happy if I have nothing to do besides going to the studio.

If you were to paint one thing over and over what would it be?

That’s actually what I’m doing: I paint humankind. Art is one of the very few pillars that define us, and on this pillar, there is a mirror, it’s Painting.

Do you like exhibiting your work? What do you do on the openings?

I work because I know it’s meant to be shown if your work doesn’t meet any other eyes besides you it does not exist.

What do you do on the openings?

I wait for the end of it. Then I rewind the evening in my head and try to fix my hangover. Small depression and then I start a new chapter.

What is your favourite place to think about a new painting?

Sofa, smoking, in my studio. But it’s a 24/7 background process anyway.

What is your relation to past painters, and history of art?

It’s a deep connection. Malcolm Morley used to say « art is a relay race » and I like this simple way to put it. I see all artists through the entire History as my contemporary fellows and the ones I admire as my intimate friends. I speak every day with them, and for the deads among them I know I have a huge asset: I know their work, they didn’t know mine. History of art is written by artists, it has to be reshaped sometimes and currently, it’s mandatory. Not for political reasons. But for timeline and forms, over places.

Which question would you like to ask your painting Idol?

I have many idols but no question, I’d rather have a drink with them and laugh about the present time I live in.

How did you develop this work you’re doing now?

I have just finished a series of paintings and I have been shown this month, so I’m still in the aftermath process. Slowly I‘ll start building new ideas and direction along with the summer and start new works in September. I work more like a musician on his next concept LP, to reach a point where all the works, although each one unique, creates a resonant set. Take something, make something different with it, then make something different with it. Reverse, invert, switch, cancel, destroy, rebuilt.

How did you meet your favourite collector?

I’m still waiting to meet my favourite one.

Why do we still paint in 2020?

Why do we still love and kill each other in 2020?

Where is Painting heading?

This one is tricky. I see a lot of paintings going on, social media like Instagram offer something unique to grasp the growth of the different scenes and formal directions, almost on a day to day basis. Figurative paintings, in its large definition, is in an amazing state and it seems that super-accurate attention to details is one of the new core of emerging painting. The return of virtuosity is also pronounced, I think the very idea that a painting is unique, and not some kind of process that could melt into single ideas or industrial marketing, is wining. Basically both Duchamp and postmodernity are fading away. We live a time of some kind of new objectivity, but worldwide, all countries, all places. I guess war is coming…

Can you tell me 3 colleagues whose work you admire?

Davor Vrankik

Michel Gouery

Nazanin Pouyandeh


Stéphane Pencréac’h is a French artist born in 1970 in Paris. After studying art history at University Paris VII, he strass working on painting, sculpture, drawing, printing and editing at the beginning of the ’90s.

In his works, he uses mythological themes, symbols and characters as a base to engage a discussion about a contemporary vision. Eroticism and sensuality pervade his works while being together influenced by non-occidental cultures as well as contradictions of the present time.

Stéphane Pencréac’h has worked with some of the most important galeries in France such as the Galerie Beaubourg, Galerie Anne de Villepoix, or Galerie Valois. He has shown his works at the MAMAC in Nice in the large exhibition called « Peinture d’Histoire ». The exhibition was consequently shown at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. His works are present in public collections (Fondation MAEGHT, FNAC Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Renens, Musée Paul Valéry de Sète, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg et MAMAC in Nice, FRAC Ile de France, city of Toulouse) and in private collections in France and worldwide.

Thank you Stéphane, and thank you, reader.

All images belong to the Artist.