Romain Blanck

Taking elements of everyday life, sharing and transforming them creates a new kind of relation- ship between the real world and its reproductions. There is an undeniable sense of familiarity in Romain Blanck’s work. The lines, shapes and elements in his paintings resemble what could be found in the scribble notepads of an art supply store. There’s something instinctive or even automatic in the doodles we make when trying a new pen or marker. The artist plays with those thoughtless movements our hands make and translates them into paintings.


But these doodles made by strangers often get lost in translation. By changing the size, medium, tool or speed of trace, Romain Blanck brings them to exist as new painterly gestures. The reproduction could never be as automatic as the original, but yet, it gives a sensation of “controlled clumsiness”. Just like the notepads, Romain’s canvases are used to the maximum, so that the most unnoticeable line can become a main element in the painting.


In the era of social media and digital visual communication, there is another element of daily used vocabulary in Romain Blanck’s paintings that works toward that sense of familiarity: stickers. Nowadays, it is a common practice of viewers to create digital reproductions of artworks by taking pictures and sharing them on social media. Those reproductions are often paired with stickers or captions overlaying the image itself and seem to become almost more important to the viewer than the original. That way, the physical paintings feel attacked by those new digital elements. Romain turns this around by using a smartphone or a computer to digitally create the images before painting them. By directly placing those stickers into the paintings, the artist forces them out of their natural media into a new physical form of existence. They are now a part of something they usually treat as a mere background. Now, they’re in the background, and the hierarchy of importance between them and the other lines is challenged.


In this series, Romain Blanck focuses on parts of human behavior that often go unnoticed, using elements of automatic movement and daily actions as vocabulary for his paintings. Stickers, that come directly from the repertoire of social media applications, are added on top of already fully covered canvases, fighting for attention against the rest of the painting. These stickers manage to catch your eye wherever they’re placed and will surely continue to do so when the paintings are photographed and shared online. This way, their life will come full circle: Out of the phone to the real world, and then back to digital devices, where they were came from.


Text by Carla Risso