Monthly Archives: September 2010

Denis Castellas

During one of my safaris in Charleroi, I met one of those people who unknowingly make a small but memorable impact on your life. One of our visitors, a former fashion photographer converted to rust and abandoned fetish, told me about this good old friend of hers, a painter, that I should check out. Half convinced, I scribble his name down to discover later one of my now favourite painters. Abstract paintings with figurative allusion, or the other way around, with subtle colour combination and a dash of irony and cynicism.

ID: Denis Castellas is French. Born in 1951 in Marseille (France). Lives and works in Nice (France).

Denis Castellas, untitled (enfants a une fete), 2003, oil on canvas 129 x 157 cm

Approach: Similarly to Marcel Proust, Denis Castellas works by memory reminiscences of sensations which he displays in a eclectic iconography. His work documents fragments of culture from Mozart to porn and  comic strips.  He manages to elusively catch his characters, making him a figurative painter working like an abstract one.

Denis Castellas, untitled (Noureev 2), 2005, oil on canvas, 157 x 198 cm

Style: He works on his canvas as he would play poker, every brushstroke is a bid: translucent layers combined with rough scrubbing and spontaneous drips; the whole reworked with crossed-out lines and marking; subtle combination of vibrant colours which occasionally punctuates grayish/pastel tones.

Denis Castellas, untitled (trois filles), 2004, oil on canvas 129 x 157cm

Quote: “We should doubt everything, including our tears”

Denis Castellas, Oil on canvas 2005, 180x200 cm Collection MAMAC

More on his website: