To define the approach - as a painter - of Joël Barbiéro , I would say it is based on memory, revealed in the memory of childhood years. This is present in the progression of his work.
During his walks, which are important, he reviews these emblematic places, where he has lived and evolved.
This research is therefore based on these moments, these interior images, which are present and maintained in his memory.
His concerns during these moments of freedom are above all the observation and apprehension of the nature , noises, smells. The variations in light accentuate these perceptions.
These images remain with him and without his deliberately deciding, they are transcribed in his works, like moments stolen from the past.
This need to use the landscape as a pretext is imposed on him. Landscape reduced to closed spaces, without precise dimension, where shadow is always present , like an ally, a refuge. The shadow that refreshes, reassures, allows you to hide. The shadow is secret, it sustains the emotion with its depth and the light appears from within.
There is in the shadows a hope of reviving by penetrating into some form of emotion. The line of the drawing disappears into the shadows, to build this shape which will reveal the light.
In the beginning Joël Barbiéro was apprenticed to a craftsman engraver, then designer of advertising signs. At the same time, he took drawing lessons in Paul Eychart's studio at the Beaux-Arts in Clermont-Ferrand. He does different jobs and devotes his free time to painting.
After his first exhibition at the Escarguel Gallery in 1966, many more followed, including the National beaux-Arts Fair, the Independent Salon and later the New Realities.
In the 1970s he exhibited at "shapes and colors professional artists from Auvergne". He participated in art exhibitions in the city in Billom and in the first meeting around Georges Bataille, with the complicity of Alain Brayer.
In the 1980s he was presented at the Artès gallery in Paris and won the prize for volcanoes in Clermont-Ferrand.
During the inauguration of the Pomel center in Issoire, he met Jean Hélion. This relationship will be very important to him.
In the 90s, the AMAC in Chamalières invited him, as well as the Jean gallery in Paris and the general council of Puy-de-Dôme. The Nicolas Pomel center in Issoire is devoting an exhibition to him. He will meet René-Jean Clot who will write the preface to the catalog.
His collaboration with the Gnaccarini gallery in Bologna took him to fairs such as Artexpo Barcelona, Linéart Gent, St’art Strasbourg. Then Galerie Richard Nicolet presents it to Arténim and Galerie GNG exhibits it at the Art Karlsruhe fair, as well as at Holland Art Fair.
In 2004 he joined the Arkos gallery, then the AA gallery. Gilles Naudin devotes three exhibitions to him in Paris. The Garnier Delaporte gallery presents it in its gallery and at Art-up Lille. Two exhibitions will follow at the Jean-Louis Mandon gallery in Lyon.
Barbiero's work has evolved into a reflection closer to nature and a more figurative expression. He lives and works near Clermont-Ferrand in a village surrounded by orchards.
The stones are silent souls. Barbiero knows it well, he who relentlessly seeks to break the silence. Prisoners of their mineral bodies for too long, condemned to interminable immobility, they stand frozen, still numb. They rest in their tomb of ash, humus and dust. They wait, dark masses at the mercy of earthly embraces and the dreaded and dreaded finitude. The stones are silent.
Then the painter, in gray, brown and bluish language, relates. He becomes an interpreter. He first tells us about the conspiracy of inert matter, that which suppresses all aspiration for elevation and silences desires, possibilities. Slowly, she shapes body-prisons where life and movement die out. Buried under the frozen earth, the rock is dying.
And yet, isn't it a breath, which suddenly seems to rise from the cold stillness? Something is pulsing, that's for sure. A remnant of underground life. Maybe a call for grace? Almost nothing that emerges from horizontal solitude.
The time for vertical combat may then come. Grace against gravity, the sacred against the profane. The hand senses and follows the power of the stone to thwart the laws of nature and to rise, far beyond itself, to an uncertain place. Yes, it appears now, the stones seek to leave the old home and take flight.
Painter of opposites, Barbiero then makes visible these fighting forces and these internal struggles: gravity or grace, who will win? Of course, the war seems lost. Who can believe in the heavy rock's claim to escape on its own to an ethereal universe? In this fierce contest, however, the fate of the world is at stake. What is shown here is more than a simple and vain game: it is the power of the sensitive to get rid of appearances and their laws.
Against all expectations, lightness wins over weight. Bodies of stone become bodies of light. The mass, transfigured, tends to reach the sky. Or is it the sky coming down to her, stretching and stretching to brush against her and, with a caressing breath, draw her to him? It’s like a wing that suddenly crashes over the surface, polishes it and sculpts it into soft, understated spheres. The light here has acquired the power to move. She also shapes, and only does her own thing.
Barbiero thus brings the world in step, at its pace, which is neither more nor less than that of poetic nature, finally succeeding in freeing itself from the yoke of inertia. There is in this painter a bias for things, a bias for inorganic matter which, just as much as the rest, aspires to be other than itself and to live, simply.
Against the weight of things, against chaos: the hidden fate of matter, that of purity having to constantly resuscitate.
Anne-Sophie REINEKE, January 2009