Colette Banaigs – An inhabited solitude – By Gerard Xuriguera

Despite the progressive invasion of new technologies, the development of photography and the vogue of artistic installations, painting is no more in a crisis than it was a few decades ago, when it was thought that other matters would be able to take over, and upset it in its very foundations. Notwithstanding the latest conceptual discoveries, painting has its ardent supporters, and keeps on giving evidence of its durability.

A painter by a native artistic calling, Colette Banaigs has never fancied for a second that she could be able to account for the curve of her inner geography by another means than “the painted image”. Having started drawing from a very early age, in the vicinity of an artist of a grandfather, very soon clear-minded, she did not hesitate, once a grown up, to commit her existence to the uncertain route of art, listening only to her supraconscience. Already being a master of her own technique, her initial attempts showed an undoubted authority, in the steps of Matisse, through the linear arabesque and the incandescence of colourings. Being gradually receptive to the effects of post-cubism, she enabled her genuinely inaugural paintings to shape, with a subtle emotion, stratified compositions, which – without cutting themselves off from an allusive reality – were very much like what was called in the fifties “abstract landscape painting”. Yet, in spite of this momentary adventure, Colette Banaigs has never broken with the coordinates of the visible, particularly with the natural kingdom and the permanency of the human being, even when she translates them by equivalencies.

In 1968, after a determining encounter with Matta she made a first breach in her artistic vocabulary: “I simply felt like going further”. She thus started to imagine paintings sprinkled with collages, with concentrated earth and sand, figurative paintings, but very freely achieved and where one could detect social if not political references, an echo of her personal beliefs. Her supports now revealed a stylistical basis that we will compile all along her itinerary: a real desire for construction, resting on a regulating vertical-horizontal axis. There appeared levitating characters, whose moves can be followed according to the situations.

She strictly pruned and simplified her iconography, but kept her flying characters and her earth-sand mixings. She regularly trusted chance, or rather the “controlled accident”, worked with scratchings and collages, vivid or dull colours, and combined haziness with compactness.

One could conclude that behind these settings, a latent anguish is worming its way; but considering the global contents of this contrasted process – more than a tendency to dramatic art – one will prefer to see solar mornings and a promise of happy prospects for the future.

Submitted to memories, unable to escape from itself, Colette Banaigs’ work does not release any nostalgia, for it is rightfully anchored in its time. Away from ephemeral infatuations, homogeneous in her plural stages, and singular in her expressiveness, she does not paint the being but the passing of the being.

Her beautiful maturity was patiently earned along her itinerary through time, and she keeps bringing us back to our own time.

Gerard Xuriguera, “Colette Banaigs” – Extracts – Ed. Garnier Nocera 2001