The MB&F M.A.D.Gallery is pleased to host “Optical Variations”, an exhibit by French artist Damien Bénéteau, featuring six of his illuminated, hypnotizing monochromatic mobiles.
Damien Bénéteau was born in France in L'Haÿ-les-Roses in 1971.
After receiving his degree in photography, Bénéteau joined a press agency, MPA, specializing in portrait photos. During this time he also worked under famed French conceptual artist, Yann Kersalé, compiling photographic reports on subjects such as the Pont de Normandie and “Parabola” in Cahors, France.
Bénéteau then moved onto photographing architectural projects and in 1998, founded “Les Cyclopes”, a collective of photographers with a focus on fashion. Images from this collective have been published in magazines and newspapers worldwide.
After switching from photographer to light sculptor, Bénéteau’s work garnered the attention of Galerie Mathias Coullaud in Paris, where he has exhibited.
About future directions for his art, Bénéteau says, “I plan to pursue my research on moving light and tiny variations of volumes and materials in minimalist sculpture.”
Bénéteau is currently living and working in the Parisian suburb of Ivry-sur-Seine.
A photographer by training, Bénéteau creates art dedicated to light, capturing it in a way that renders it nearly tangible.
“My work is intimately related to my background in photography,” says Bénéteau. “In this form of minimalist kinetic sculpture, I am using all I know about light to sculpt it. Much like in photography, I use light to achieve a certain optical effect.”
And he does. The outcome of his light sculpting is at once playful and energetic, yet full of contrast and yielding a mesmerizing visual effect.
M.A.D.Gallery Founder and Creator Maximilian Büsser said, “Damien is a dreamer and an incredible self-taught artisan. To follow his vision of mechanical/optical sculptures, he left all behind and taught himself a whole set of new skills. His machines are one of the reasons the M.A.D.Gallery exists. His mobiles and his creative philosophy are the epitome of what we defend in our curation. We are so proud to be able to showcase his talent.”
The impetus for Bénéteau’s kinetic art came out of one of his photographic series in which white balloons were suspended in a white room lit only by a skylight. This jumpstarted the photographer’s fascination with how an object’s volume is perceived in various lighting situations.
Once he added movement to the equation, “Optical Variations” was born.
“I have always been interested in mechanics and machines,” says Bénéteau. “My greatest influences come from minimalist sculpture, seen in the mixture of geometric aesthetics, austerity and simplicity found in my work.”
Beginning his artistic process on paper, Bénéteau first draws different forms and experiments with the optical effects these forms take in various lighting situations.
He then inputs these ideas into a computer, enabling him to formulate the technical details of his sculpture. Next comes the long process of realization.
According to Bénéteau, “to make one sculpture, it requires between three and six months of work. Most of this time is spent experimenting with the effects of light on the piece.”
Bénéteau prefers to work with aluminium because anodizing the surface of this lightweight metal creates a deep black. When illuminated with LED lights, this deep black shows a full spectrum of all the nuances of grey.
Working from his own atelier, Bénéteau, a connoisseur of machinery, uses milling, polishing and metal turning machines to create his structures, “a critical aspect”, he says, of his creative process.
In his installations for the M.A.D.Gallery, the French artist plays with pendulums, pairing their oscillating movement with light to create a duo of mesmerizing phenomena.
In “Spatial Variations” and “Spherical Variations”, a slowly undulating metal ball ticks along its defined course, while throwing light and shadows on the surrounding space, almost as if the light is alive and breathing.
“Length Variations” plays with a moving light source as it passes through a concave structure, catching and reflecting the light in a brilliant flash, similar to a signal from a lighthouse.
Additionally, in “Dark Variations” and “Elliptical Variations,” the light emerges gracefully from the center of the sculpture, spilling over the surface outwards. This is due to a mechanical system that sets in motion the light from front to back, allowing the light rays to illuminate the central shape. While “Dark Variations” takes a circular shape and “Elliptical Variations” possesses an oblong form, both reflect an impression of inner light pouring outwards.
About this exhibition, Bénéteau says, “… the notions of time, space and impalpable forces are present,” as the artist explores the cyclical nature of light moving across and through objects.
His hope is that people viewing his work don’t get too caught up in the details and technique, but are rather able to observe the abstract nature of his work and the unique effect that his light sculptures create.
Elliptical Variations and Spatial Variations are limited to three pieces each.
Dark Variations is a limited edition of five pieces.
Spherical Variations is limited to seven pieces.
Length Variations comes in two different sizes (large and small), each in a limited edition of three and seven pieces respectively.