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French-born artist Henri Barande exhibits for the first time in the UK at the Saatchi Gallery
Henri Barande at Saatchi Gallery, © Justin Piperger, 2016.

LONDON.- October 2016 is the first time to see the remarkable work of French-born artist Henri Barande in the UK. Both intriguing and stimulating, Henri 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.” 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 monu mental 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. The Henri Barande exhibition will consist of an installation of forty-five canvases and twenty-five sculptures.

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 exhbition at the Saatchi Gallery will be the only chance to see his work in the UK in his lifetime. Henri Barande: The Work Beyond has been published by Booth-Clibborn Editions to coincide with the exhibition. Edited by David Galloway and containing texts by Henri-Claude Cousseau, Romaric Sulger Büel, and Michel Weemans, the 304 page book contains 179 full-colour plates. Eminent American art critic David Galloway has also curated the exhibition, which is presented by the Violet Hour.

Henri Barande was born in Morocco and grew up in Carthage, an area whose geography, architecture and atmosphere had a profound effect on his practice as an artist. Barande believes his life is a prolongation of a death that has already occurred, and that his work is the surviving version of a previous existence. His sculptures and paintings represent a continuous dialogue with those beliefs. Henri Barande’s solo shows to date are Meteoron at Sotheby’s Zurich (2000), the Musée d’Art Moderne, Geneva (2008), and Nice to be Dead at the École des Beaux Arts, Paris (2011). In addition, he has participated in group shows at the Zurich Kunsthalle (2002) and the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo (2009).

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