As Barbara Dasnoy rightly reminds us, "the word abstraction is still today a source of misunderstanding". A serious misunderstanding if the belief persists that abstraction has nothing to do with reality and its material nature, that it turns its back on what is concrete and refrains from taking the details of what is visible into account. Perhaps we should return to the older meaning of the word, equivalent to extraction: the act of removing an item from the surroundings in which it is buried or hidden.
Barbara Dasnoy's painting does just this: she extracts and releases visible shapes and structures that are imperceptible at first sight; she translates into colours, oblique or horizontal lines, splashes, marbling or hatching the "silent signs" that she detects and deciphers through observation and meditation; she brings them into the light and makes them legible.
The play of transparent colours in her works is so subtle that this legibility appeals not only to the sense of sight, but also sound and touch. Some of the canvases gleam like enamel, and it feels as if your eyes caress the colours (or are caressed by their light?); others are reminiscent of stained glass shot through with orange, vermilion, dark blue or purple, and in the same way as stained glass, they project an impression of controlled strength, balance and delicacy. This impression is even stronger when confronted with the "major white" canvases in the 2005 series under the paradoxical title of "untitled".
No title, no name, no description, no indication at all – but not without power nor presence. The power of the bare essential, luminous whiteness, the strength of austere harmony, a vivid and virginal presence expressed through absence. Here what is palpable becomes a caress: the caress of white on a grey, rust, or black background, the caress of whiteness barely touching the eye – and thus by gentle waves the caress of what is visible upon the invisible is reflected, so that the invisible drifts like a whisper of snow over the surface of the visible.
A whisper of silence, slow subsidence of shapes, lines and vibrations emerging from the bottomless background to the visible; long fine inhalation of colours matching this exhalation – this is a patiently, passionately created exchange between the visible and its obverse, reverse or reserve - the invisible.
Painting is the art of absorbing the visible in a broad, deep breath, and abstraction is a way of phrasing this breath. Barbara Dasnoy's pictorial phrasing, combining rigour and delicacy, gives us to hear the colours of silence.
Sylvie Germain Pau, May 2007
Sylvie GERMAIN is a writer who has received many distinctions, including the 1989 Prix Femina and the Jean Giono Grand Prix in 1998.