Visual arts

Hugo Capron

He taught me that emptiness is preferable to fullness because fullness no longer moves, but that fullness is existence and that we have to come to terms with breaking the emptiness.” (The French Art of War, Alexis Jenni, 2011)

Visual artist Hugo Capron is a painter. He is guided by the Western painting standards and archetypes, and is interested in the phenomena of cultural absorption in art, in the manner of Japanism.

Published on 15/12/2020

5 min

Born in 1989, trained in printing techniques, then at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Art (ENSA) in Dijon, where he lives and works, Hugo Capron is an artist who has chosen to develop his visual material between conceptual painting and gestural abstraction. 

He exhibited at the Consortium de Dijon in 2015, at the FRAC Bourgogne in 2017, but also in Japan at the MAT contemporary art centre (Minatomachi Art Table) in Nagoya in 2016, and was a resident at the Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto in 2019.

Showcased in France (Troyes, Paris, Forbach, Vichy) as well as abroad (Brussels, Amsterdam, Dallas), the painter’s canvases come to life as inner experiences.

For Hugo Capron, it isn’t about including some outside dimension in painting, but on the contrary about celebrating the medium as it is, with its primary components, its presence.

He has a willingness to explore the dialectic of fullness and emptiness. In the Rendements series (2018), the artist paints his canvas to the point of exhausting the substance, the amount of which he’s chosen per the manufacturer’s indications on the paint can. Through the vagaries of movement and the medium’s various degrees of absorption, the painting runs out, the richness of the work coming from this beautiful inadequacy that stays the motion. The aerosol cans are completely emptied, but there’s a white remnant that is very significant. 

His residency at the Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto marked an important turning point in how he works, although the subject of his paintings finally remains the painting as an object.

Hugo Capron is also interested in Japanism and the various influences it has on Western painting. Inspired by prints, the paintings of fireworks or colourful fish provide an ironic answer to the expectations of the person looking at the them. As his choice of subject is not insignificant, the distance with it and producing series enable Hugo Capron to use great freedom in this medium, a delight of colour and gesture. Painting frees itself from a constraint to show itself better as a practice. Outside dichotomous considerations between abstraction and figuration, painting becomes another path to follow through constraints and mechanical gestures.

If cultural exchanges have always nourished art history, the notion of identity through art seems more blurred than ever. Contemporary art as a globalised practice has smoothed the challenges of painting to celebrate it better. However, through his latest paintings, Hugo Capron asks us the question of what the Japanism of today may be. What are the material and aesthetic equivalents, but also, what does cultural appropriation mean if it can still contribute something to painting? The journey and discovery are essential aspects for the artist, as much for inspiration as practice.

  • 1989


    Hugo Capron is born in Bois-Guillaume, Seine-Maritime.

  • 2015


    He gets his diploma from ENSA de Dijon. He is selected for the first Dijon/Dallas residency and exhibition programme, an international project with a vocational dimension.

  • 2017


    The artist has his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Barnoud (Quetigny).

  • 2018


    First personal exhibition in an institution at the Passages contemporary arts centre.

  • 2019


    Hugo Capron begins his residency at the Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto.

The Institut français and the artist

In 2019, Hugo Capron was selected to spend time at the Villa Kujoyama, a residency for artists in Japan supported by the Institut français.

Find out more about Villa Kujoyama


L'institut français, LAB