Morgan Lehman Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by French artist Bénédicte Peyrat. This is Ms. Peyrat’s second solo show at the gallery. Ms. Peyrat’s paintings locate awkward yet emotionally appealing figures against seductive surfaces, setting up a push/pull of beauty and repulsion. Her portraits combine traditional figurative poses with a versatile contemporary approach. Rich depictions of flesh and life are infused with a contorted, sometimes almost Mannerist sensibility that seems to push past the surface of the canvas. Peyrat’s loose brushwork allows portions of the background to show through the heaviness of the paint and reflect the emotional state of the figure, exposed and raw, yet with a sense of innocence.
Peyrat’s palette and composition reference historical figurative painting, while the brushwork and emotionality bring a 20th century flair to the work. Peyrat’s use of bold earthy colors- burnt sienna, ochre, and umber- evoke the works of Romantic painters such Delacroix, as do her dreamy, emotion- laden representations of the human figure. The portraits also bring to mind the work of Rembrandt through her use of raking light and rich, dark backgrounds. Yet the intimacy of the poses and her thick, bold and expressive brushwork locate the work firmly in the 20th century with its relationship to the dynamic yet disturbing portraits of Francis Bacon, and absurd but beautiful portraits of women by John Currin and Lisa Yuskavage.
Bénédicte Peyrat was born in Paris in 1967 and studied at the Academié de Port-Royal and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. She lives and works both in Paris, France and Karlsruhe, Germany. She has received numerous international honors and has exhibited widely in Europe.