How could we not mention it? How could we not remind how admirating Alain Delon was when he first his sculptures? This was told many times: it was during the transition between 2005 and 2006, when the famous actor acquired two of his pieces, a gorilla and a chimpanzee, for his prestigious collection. Since, although Damien Colcombet has not denied the wonderful patronage, saying he followed his path and definitely marked his time is an understatement. So much that in September 2018, the magazine Chasses internationales could establish him this way: “gifted animal sculptor, probably the most brilliant of his generation in the figurative vein”. In fact, this gifted artist, who was in Rennes in 1967, now lives in Lyon where his life-size bronze of a giraffe licking its calf rises in a park.
How did that man produce such miracles? We might know the secret: the strength of his eyes, the reliability of his fingers, patience, passion, and more importantly the inexpressible thrill, sign of a demanding nature without which works of art cannot exist. This is what this third showing at the Cristel Éditeur d’Art Centre in Saint-Malo, where he is exclusively exhibited in Brittany, demonstrates. It is obvious that his work is accomplished because he masters gesture after gesture, in the manner of a tamer who would only have his hand to create the compulsory trust between the animal and him. It reminds the title of a short story, Colcombet, the animal. It explains how invested and embodied the artist is in his bestiary, from month to month more astonishing and varied. Domestic bestiary with donkeys, horses, bulls, ducks, cows, boars. Wild bestiary with his famous elephants, lions, tigers, rhinoceros, giraffes, gorillas and bears. Finally, marine bestiary, for this Breton descendant now carves, with the same joy, sperm whales, orcas, whales, sharks, narwhals. Not forgetting the inimitable northern gannet…
In short, Damien Colcombet is authentically marine, talking on the same level as a newcomer: illustrious and wonderful Albert Brenet, who is also exclusively represented by the Cristel Éditeur d’Art Centre. Albert Brenet is a reporting painter, born in 1903, he died in 2005; he went around the world for seventy years. This painter was crazy about new horizons and movement, and his gouaches were so astonishing that one of his student, Serge Marko, told there was a time when each art student “desperately sought to attain this technique called ‘à la Brenet’!”Behind the unquestionable genius of touch, the portrait of a master covered in honours emerged; named Peintre de l’Air in 1936, Peintre de la Marine in 1954, Peintre de l’Armée de terre in 1959; exhibited many times, rewarded many times then bought by museums. As it happens, he was a good man who preferred his freedom to glory, and who multiplied subjects with as much conscience as drive. He mastered the art of skilfully fixing the details within spirited ensemble, always very colourful, overjoyed, full of life… This first exhibition in Saint-Malo bears witness of this: French countryside, mountains of the Tyrol, the burning sands of Tunisia, Spain, the Netherlands, his fascination for Japan. And of course, his own bestiary, which gathers spontaneous sketches of lions, tigers and horses… What a stroke! What breath! Swipe of claws and horizons initiate a beautiful around-the-world trip in 31 paintings and drawings, all unexpected and vibrant. Fantastic visions!