Deeply impacted by his discovery of Augustin Lesage, Éric Benetto explores the most arduous spiritual paths: monastic life and ascetic practices of the Orthodox hesychasm. His Chinese ink or pencil drawings, on paper, radiographs and other MRI scans are imbued with syncretic mysticism as well as an exceptional modernity. Before his first solo exhibition organized by the gallery in 2019, his work had already been noticed at the exhibition Brut Now: art brut in the time of technologies, at the Belfort museums. Since then, he has joined prestigious collections such as those of Laurent Dumas (France) or Treger-Saint Silvestre (Portugal).
For Éric Benetto, born in 1972 in La Roche-sur-Yon, the discovery - at the age of 17 - of the mediumistic work of underground miner Augustin Lesage was a real epiphany. His meeting with Abbé Coutant, who became a painter himself thanks to his friend Gaston Chaissac, left his mark just as much on him. Deeply meditative, fundamentally fierce, Benetto understood then that his feeling of exile would find in art an unsuspected outcome.
Between two trips to India, he worked in a wide variety of jobs: roadmender, telephone pollster, chemical plant guard, and many others. He began to write down in travel diaries what would become his formal grammar. Like an uninterrupted prayer, a silent, vertiginous recitation, a haunting graphic mantra.
Soon, India ink, especially, and pencil, sometimes, would conquer larger surfaces. Kraft paper, first of all, before, thanks to a job in a hospital, he discovered the potential of radiographs and other MRI images: both transparency and darkness in search of light. His pen overcome by the trance would do the rest.
While the motifs are repeated ad libitum and the serial incantations unfold like the primordial om, the artist gives substance to what Romain Rolland called the “oceanic feeling”, this formidable thirst for osmosis with the universe. In Benetto’s case, it extends from limbo to men. Urbi et orbi. Especially when his assemblies of magnetic resonance images are studded with negatives of photographs of those who he refers to as his ” terrestrial family “. Or when the peregrination of memory is coupled with a redemptive impetus. Not to mention these organs freed from their condition, reinvented, poetized, sublimated.
Éric Benetto has never stopped walking the most arduous spiritual paths, from the rigors of monastic life to the ascetic practices of orthodox hesychasm. However, his extreme humility prevents him from admitting his singularity, because the work he has conceived is not only marked by an exacerbated, syncretic mysticism, but also by an exceptional modernity. His work was particularly noticed in 2016 during the exhibition Brut Now: l’art brut au temps des technologies at the Musées de Belfort and is part of major collections, both of art brut and contemporary art.
Foreword : Christian Berst.
Catalog published to mark the exhibition Éric Benetto : in excelsis, from January 26th to March 2nd, 2019.