Stéphane Kenkle’s painting focuses mainly on the depiction of the human figure and family portraits. His subjects, which he presents as half-length or full-length portraits, are painted in Fauvist colours with eyes wide open, suspended in pattern-studded spaces. Their attitudes seem to indicate that they are posing as they would in a photography studio, as if they were trying to give the impression of a “respectable” family – a tightly knit clan in which roles are assigned and performed according to the norm. But then one notices a hand hidden behind someone’s back, a foot bent inwards, or a tense clasp. A feeling of unease cracks the image and gives the fabricated nature of the reunion away. The backgrounds of the portraits, covered in vines, stars or embroideries, play an integral part in the decorum of these strange schemes (as confirmed by the titles of the pieces: Family with vines, Family with clover, Family with maidenhair ferns…). Stéphane Kenkle scratches away at the varnish of the icons that stand on our shelves and urges us to perhaps reconsider these frames and the people who inhabit them.
Marie Birot, 2020.