Baroque Painting

The term “Baroque” in its current meaning, like most periods or stylistic designations, was invented later by art critics and not by the artists of the XVIth and the XVIIth centuries. It is Heinrich Wölfflin who imposed this aesthetic category in 1915 in his fundamental principles of the history of art. He defines the Baroque as an art antithesis of the art of the Renaissance art.

 The Renaissance did not propose to represent the reality of the world of the time but to seek an ideal beauty. The idealization concerned the forms, the color, the light, but also the subjects, often drawn from the History, the ancient mythology or the biblical episodes. The end of the XVIth century and the beginning of the 17th century broke with this search for ideal harmony and advocated a realism that was sometimes overly dramatized: this was the appearance of the Baroque. This very short period (about 40 years) was the last purely European artistic movement.

 In the middle of the XVIIth century, the Classicism appears which will be in contradiction with the Baroque. The Classical style is linear, it focuses on the limits of the object by defining and isolating it. The Baroque style is pictorial, the subjects are attached quite naturally to the environment. The Classical style is built in plans, the Baroque is built in depth. The Classical style is of closed form, the Baroque is of open form. The unity of the Classical style is in the clear distinction of its elements, that of the Baroque style is an indivisible unity. Classicism aims first at clarity, while Baroque subordinates the essence of the characters to their relationship.

 The Baroque appears first of all as a research of the truth in rupture with the idealization of the beauty

of the High Renaissance. Caravaggio wants to show us Humans as they are and does not shy away from ugliness, unlike the artists of the XVIth century. All the Baroque painters adhere to this principle of truth and Rubens, under the guise of ancient mythology far in the representation of the ugliness. Finally, if the classical painter entrusts the characters with the expression of passions, the baroque painter will try to communicate to the spectator his emotional state and to provoke a sentimental reaction in him. The states of the soul are displayed on the characters. The divine remains mysterious and invites reflection. Death, suffering, the humility of daily life are the favorite subjects of the Baroque.

 Hervé BONSARD willingly blurs the boundaries between life and death, dream and reality, truth and falsehood. He imagines the world as a theater and life as a comedy. He likes surprise, heroism, love and death. He also insists on the differences between beings, feelings and situations …. The painting of this artist places the Baroque under the signs of the irregularity, the spectacular, the metamorphosis, the ephemeral, the illusion and the vacillating identity, his compositions seek to cause in the spectator a sentimental reaction. His compositions are similar to a real visual shock. The effect of emerging from the darkness of the violently lit forms is a realistic and modern vision, lively and dynamic. The diagonal replaces the construction in interlocking triangles and the wise balance of the horizontal and vertical dating from the Renaissance. The lighting is meant to be changing. Light breakthroughs on a dark sky background in the landscape cause contrasting areas between light and shadow.

The unity is to be sought in the play of the relations between the figures and their environment according to a dynamic conception of space. He obliges the spectator to resolve the meaning of the action and to seek, in this accumulation of details, the keys for its understanding.

 Hervé BONSARD willingly tries to translate the elusive, that is to say that he likes to represent transient situations. This feeling of instability and “ephemerality” is also found in the staging. The characters are in motion, caught in the middle of an action. As a result, the narration is done in the present tense and no longer contains  the exhaustiveness of a message included in the grouping of symbols

as in classical painting or contemporary art.


The return to the sources


Modern art is based on the transgression of the rules of classical figuration (Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism…). Contemporary art transgresses the very notion of work of art as it is commonly accepted. For example, the work will no longer be made by the hand of the artist but machined by third parties. The artistic act does not reside any more in the manufacture of the object but in its design, in the speeches which accompany it, the reactions which it causes… The work can be ephemeral, evolutionary, biodegradable, blasphemous, indecent.

 As the baroque painters who fought against an idealized world of the High Renaissance, Hervé BONSARD finds it necessary to oppose current art, the supremacy of the idea, conceptual art and the regime of singularity by focusing solely on skill and rarity.

His challenge was to mix historical research and experiments without deviating from real facts. It took more than 10 years to find these jealously guarded methods and techniques. Classical, Modern and Contemporary art, art schools have finally erased this know-how which requires requirement, patience and rigor. In order to paint like in the workshops of the beginning of the XVIIth century, a self-taught approach, shaking all the codes, was thus necessary.

 By carrying out physico-chemical experiments and by crossing readings of old books on the

dyers, apothecaries and painters, Hervé BONSARD has found ancient ingredients and rules of

compositions. He has accumulated a large number of recipes and reinvented almost everything, such as

brushes, supports, oils and varnishes, pigments and paints…

Slowly but surely he accumulates skills that are no longer transmitted today. Like the painters of that time, he knows the walnut trees which will produce the nuts for his oil, the sites where his pigments are extracted, the trees which provide him a resin for his varnishes. He recovers from certain animals the hairs and feathers to make his brushes and drawing tools. Sometimes he produces himself his

pigments, his inks and makes his instruments for the practice of this art. In addition to the freedom that it provides, this step brings closer without question the baroque painter of the nature. In direct relation

with it, by evacuating the imaginary, the beliefs, the knowledge, and the industrial tools, Hervé BONSARD seeks to interact freely with it. Isn’t adaptation the source of creation on earth?

 “I sincerely thank my relatives, all my friends collectors and lovers of paintings to allow me to fulfill my dreams and my passions and to realize my creations. ” Hervé BONSARD