«I feel through color, it is thus by it that my canva should always be organized» said Henri Matisse. Thomas Andréa Barbey is also a colorist, but he is engaged in modernizing ancient techniques, especially divisionism. In front of his work with luminous and meditative accents, the viewer cannot help but remember the research of Signac or Seurat.
To paint color is to choose to represent a projection of our mind on the world. Color does not have a time component, it does not define any particular object. From a scientific point of view, it is only a feeling of light, captured and analyzed by the eye. It is precisely in this quest of the intangible and immaterial that Barbey engages himself. His work shows color in its purest form : no use of shade, even if the juxtaposition of colored dots tries to deceive our eye. French painter Nicolas Poussin used to say «colors in painting are lures that persuade the eyes, just like verses in poetry». By using a method that crosses Neo-impressionnism with Mec’art, Barbey assimilates previous artistic techniques with a deep understanding of the mediums used, in order to offer a modern and unique adaptation. The colorful dot of the contemporary artist is unified and standardized, he uses it in an almost mechanical gesture. The image that seems pixelated is actually the result of a long and meditative work. The meticulousness of Thomas Andrea Barbey’s work then contrasts with the search of the representation of a snapshot he looks to offer to the viewer. Each artwork strikes by its accuracy and sensibility. The painter retains from the Neo-Impressionists a predominance of instinct over initiative, the importance of a thorough theoretical reflection on colored reports or even the importance of the optical mixing that forms on the eye of the spectator thanks to the divisionnist method.
Painter of color, really? We can however summon his monochrome landscapes like his Seas. It should not be forgotten, nonetheless, that Thomas Andréa Barbey is an artist in constant research, who never ceases to reformulate his art. His different residencies and shows lead him through the world, at the discovery of the burning sun of Spain or of the rivers and greenery of Vietnam. Thomas Andrea Barbey says it himself : «My artistic work pursue this long journey, in a slow exploration of reality, of the world under its geographical and contemplative aspect. It is the story of a fictional walk. […] I spend my time on adventures, walking somewhere between the world as I see it and the world as I imagine it.»
We thus understand how much the romantic ideal that moves Barbey also influences his work, and allows him to constantly explore new paths. Through constantly renewed themes, landscape first, but also interiors with windows or even marines, the french painter offers a solution full of an intriguing ambiguity, thanks to the synthesis of opposite poles : abstraction or figuration ? Gesture or geometry ? Personal or universal ? He paradoxically reuses principles specific to Abstraction like seriality, geometrical reproduction applied to figurative works. The dot, a pattern that is absolutely geometrical, is likely to be subject to this logic of repetition, according to a mechanical gesture that evokes the machine. He explains that he looks to evacuate the «subjective content of a piece in a kind of hypnotism that leads to reverie».
This logic of mechanization of the gesture and of the artist himself also evokes the theories of the Mec’Art that uses photographic processes of report on various mediums, but the common point of each artwork is that the use of mechanical techniques of reproduction. The image thus recomposed becomes autonomos of its form and message. It is finally about the almost mathematical elaboration of a new synthetic image. Thomas Andréa Barbey uses similar means. Thereby, it is not uncommon for him to use zoomed and enlarged photographs in order to reach a complete pixelation. He then focuses on the images for a long time, meticulously analyzing them. He finally proceeds to paint his subject as he remembers it. Thus, his canvases are not painted on the motif, but are the culmination of a long reflexive process that allows the image to acquire this character as precise as it is sensitive.