Yves Crenn at BDG GalleryMarch 26, 2011
Crenn has had a long term relationship with Bertrand Delacroix, originally part of the stable of artists at Delacroix’s Axelle Fine Art gallery. Crenn has developed a unique technique painting with watercolor, pastel and water splatter. Sounds like a mess but it isn’t. These three images are highlights from the show.
Crenn presented nudes, still life, trees and lighthouses, along with the requisite giant self-portrait, which seems to be demanded by Delacroix as proof of technical expertise. Clearly, Crenn is an expert; equally clearly, he’s not that taken with his own face.
The work is outstanding. These are not your grandmother’s pastels, not charming Renoir soft images, blended almost beyond bearing into banality. Crenn’s work is strong and intriguing. Outstanding pieces were the individual trees (oaks?), two light houses (one with sea foam) and a vase of sunflowers.
Crenn’s uses very, very soft French pastels. His first step is to create the background using traditional soft blending techniques. Then he uses the pastels as though they were paint, creating the equivalent of an impasto. He then uses a dry brush to draw the pigment to the left andright, creating streaks across the paper and blurring image definition. Somewhere in the process, Crenn uses watercolor for definition – not sure if it’s early or late in the process. The last step is water splatter – he drops, splashes and tosses water onto his paintings and achieves a simply amazing depth through this process.
I covet the sunflowers, but all of Crenn’s paintings are superb. The show is open through April 16.