Henri Baviera

painter born in 1934



Henri Baviera was born in Nice 1934. He is a native of Saint Paul de Vence, Henri Baviera works and currently lives in Lorgues (in the Var, France.)


While still very young, Baviera attends the Nice Trachel school, studying painting, drawing, engraving for three years.


Then in the 1950s, he continues painting and engraving in St Paul, under the watchful eye of experienced and confirmed artists such as Manfredo Borsi, Elmiro Celli, and many others.


In 1952, at the occasion of his first painting in Saint Paul, Baviera met Picasso, who encouraged him.


From 1960 to 1963, Baviera stays in Paris and attends most of the paintings academies, and the workshop Calavaert-Brown where he will enrich his technique and knowledge of engraving.


He returns do Saint Paul, where he has installed his engraving and painting studio.

Little by little, he moves away from figuration to a mineral phase (1962-1966).  then to a schematic period (1968-1975), and then to a dream-like period (1978-1987.)


In 1988 his compositions show a sleek, architectural, and metaphysical abstraction.


The 2000s see color and texture affirming new energy in a personal expression of the living world.


 Since 1950, many trips with more than three hundred and fifty collective and personal exhibitions have made known his work in France and abroad (USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Brazil,)  and in participating in major International Contemporary Art fairs (Paris, Basel, London, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Yokohama, Ghent, Montreal, Frankfurt, Geneva, Bologna, Nice.)

Besides, periods of study and research were held in Europe, Canada, the USA, South America, Japan.


To painting, his primary activity, Baviera adds engraving, mosaic, stained glass, sculpture, ceramics, collages, installations, polyesters, etc..


In 1965, Henri Baviera starts to develop his new engraving process, “Polychromie relief.”


Henri Baviera has made numerous creations in public spaces: mosaics (Valbonne), murals (Théoule and Marseille), Fountain (Gardanne), ceramic (Mandelieu), polyester (Geneva).


In 1968, he is the author of "Penetrable Environment" for the ORTF (National French TV channels.) This creation was used as decoration of the television show of the famous singer-songwriter Michel Polnareff, 'A day in St Paul de Vence.'

In 1986, Baviera leaves St. Paul de Vence and opens his new Studio in Nice.

Since 1990, he takes regular trips to Japan, where he exhibits frequently.

In 2001-2002, the Japan Foundation grants him a four-month Research Fellowship to Japan, dedicated to the study of traditional paper (washi) and its use in contemporary engraving, leading to his project to make engravings "polychrome relief" without the use a press.


Since 1965, over the years, Baviera has created several ‘Artist’s Books’  with his poet friends (André Verdet, Bernard Noël, Françoise Armengaud, Michel Bohbot, Gilbert Casula, Jacques Kober, Bruno Mendonça, Alain Freixe, Claude Haza, Claude Gallot, Marcel Migozzi, Philippe Chartron, Françoise Serreau, Beatrice Machet, Daniel Leuwers, Albertine Benedetto, Raphaël Monticelli.)


In 2002, Henri Baviera sets up his studio in Lorgues (France), in the middle of nature, where he lives and continues to work.


Over 350 collective and personal exhibitions,

Numerous International Art fairs

Numerous press articles, videos and tv broadcasts and documentaries.



Why Paint…?


The subject of Art is as broad as the history of mankind and assumes as many angles of view as there are eyes to see.  Concerning my work, I see two ways to talk about it; by "how" or "why."


Although one way contains the other, I begin with the second (knowing that a part of this "why" escapes me). I want to talk about the conscious part of my motivations as a painter for more than forty years,  a questioning of what I see and perceive in what surrounds me and drives me in my search for a plastic and sensitive answer plastic, of course, subjective.


It is, somehow, a tribute to the primal energies, to the living world, and to the extraordinary journey of humanity, which is its continuation.


Beyond the inspiration I may get from the formal aspects, I find a profound motivation in the meaning and in the impact that the living has on me as a human being. If it seems that the progress induces a distance with that living being, my intimate relationship with him takes, in this respect, an increased need.


We understand that technical or craftsmanship issues related to the 'how' play, in this context, the role of a tool to realize images unknown in advance.

In practice, I do not want to be restricted in the choice of means.  In the moment, I will choose the tool that serves best my emotion, from the object to the canvas, from collage to engraving, from the gouache drawing or installation to photography, etc. even if the work contains a particular formalism that is inherent in its execution.


This being said, what does painting represents for me?


I have no concrete definition because freedom is its first condition.

In my intuitive path where I wander, there are no signage or direction signs. It is up to me to get lost of not. I can only be guided by my inner “compass.”

Armed with my perception of reality, I am just looking to add a spiritual space in harmony with a creative imagination sometimes to the edge of utopia.

That is why I keep a distance from purely intellectual work, because, for me, it would mean to be deprived of a more critical dimension. If Art is not made without intelligence, it is without a doubt because there is another intelligence in it.

I am also tempted to associate myself with what Georges Braque said: ” We have only to discover, but be careful not to explain. Every evidence diminishes the truth."


Striving to harmony to make ugliness temporary;

Striving to love to make violence unacceptable.


If Art has the power to stir the best that man has in him, using art to remind the negative part of the world or to tell a sick man that he has little chance to heal, is unacceptable.

With optimism, I believe that the future is in sharing cultural links and assets in harmony with the deepest needs of human beings.


It is in this state of mind that I let my gestures act freely on the canvas.


Henri Baviera 2017

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About Henri Baviera -  Through the looking-glass (New Riviera) About Henri Baviera -  "Traces et Breches" (article in English)
About Henri Baviera -  The Magical Windows of Baviera


Text by Inger Holland


Through the looking-glass


Look through a Baviera window and you'll look into a Magic world.

Light and color stream into your vision. Landscapes appear in your mind’s eye. They are timeless and powerful in their vastness - and always etched with minute traces of humanity and plant life.




Henri Baviera has his studio in Nice. The sun streams into the Old Town apartment, lighting the canisters of paint and the giant printing press. Pulling out one canvas after another, he explains that much of his work is in Japan right now.

Henri Baviera has a way of drawing his audience into his imagination, into the very interior  of his paintings. He uses the allusion of windows to catch  the eye. "Anyone can be impressed by a painting," he says. “We have made it a privileged  surface. It hangs rather like a postage stamp on a wall. You look at it. It distinguishes itself from other surfaces in the house because something is inscribed in it."


"But with a window, you must stop and look through or into it. When I create something that resembles a window, the viewer must enter it. The relationship becomes interactive. In reality, it marks a physical space, but it can become a mental one as well."

Baviera's work is about man's relationship with the universe inside himself and the universe outside.


Baviera's windows present opportunities to look onto other perspectives of our lives. He segments his canvas into planes and spaces of different colors, shapes and textures. The planes are often super-imposed in order to create 'open vistas" onto many little worlds : abstractions of mountains, glaciers, skies, creatures - all separate universes that live side by side, complementing one another.

They represent the harmony that Baviera seeks in the relationship between man and nature.

"What has always interested me is the link between realms of living things. The rapport between minerals, vegetation and animal life should be in perfect harmony all the time." Through his windows, Baviera's timeless universe can't exist without the traces or footprints that mark the passing of life : animal tracks, human scribbles, or the remains of organic matter, such as imprints of roots or laves.

'"I also like to leave these traces," says Baviera. "because they provide a link to the person who created the piece. It also avoids our having to look at something too technical, with no soul, that is then no longer a painting." He floats magic crystals geometric shapes like diamonds - in his scenery. They represent man's impact as he passes through the universe. On earth, only man can fabricate straight lines and symmetry... in that he is like a crystal, the only natural abject with rigid geometric forms - though a crystal takes millions of years to be created.

Baviera's imaginative worlds, so rich in the ochre colors of the earth and the blues of air and water, are intuitive landscapes to be crossed by the mind of the viewer as if he were the first explorer, with no map and no preconceived notions. Baviera's titles will give no clue: Shimanda, Mekita, Lunycia, Apsamé... They are part of his own make-believe language, meaningless words valued for the musical and poetic sounds and images they evoke.

Baviera is an artist who has evolved enormously, just like his landscapes. In the 1950's, he painted scenes of Provence : villages, olive-groves, fruit arranged in kitchen still-lives. His paintings had a rough, rustic look about them and sold very well. He was an artist in one of the world's most celebrated artistic communities: Saint Paul de Vence.

For Easter, 1952, an exhibition of local artists was organized in the only gallery in Saint Paul. Henri, then 18, prepared a large canvas showing the interior of a peasant's cottage, lit only by the sun through a rear window. At the famed Colombe d'Or hotel, there seemed to be some interest in his picture. Borsi, one of the local artists, told Henri that he should go talk to a man sitting at the back of the bar, wearing a large Mexican sombrero. Rather timidly, he introduced himself.

"Are you the young man who paints peasants' houses ?"

"Yes, sir."

"You want to paint?"

"Oh, yes !"

"Then continue to look closely at everything. You know, you must always observe everything, even backwards and upside-down. You have the temperament to paint. Follow your oye and work !"

Henri was deeply impressed. As he left, the owner of the Colombe d'Or, Titine Roux, had a big smile on her face when she asked him, "And what did Picasso say to you ?"


Henri Baviera's family in Saint Paul con be traced back to the 14th century. He spent his childhood there before going to study art in Nice. In the early 'fifties, he opened his first studio back in the family home on Saint Paul's western ramparts.

Throughout the 'fifties and 'sixties, about 20 artists lived and worked in studios within the village walls. A terrific camaraderie developed. Chagall was often at the Maeght Foundation, along wih Giacometti, Miro and Léger. André Verdet was his neighbor and was often accompanied by Arman, César, Martial Raysse and Yves Klein, who lived in the neighboring village of La Colle.

Baviera lived on the edge of these Ecole de Nice painters. He wasn't influenced by them, because his work was not about the effects of the industrialized world and mass consumerism, as theirs was.

He sought harmony in what was timeless and universal, not in what was modern.

Baviera remembers it as a tremendous era. "No-one who lived through it can ever forget it," he exclaims. Many people from the cinema also frequented Saint Paul : Yves Montand, Simone Signoret and Jacques Prévert. The "good years" lasted until 1968.

Then the village sold out. Land prices sky-rocketed and agriculture- oranges, wine and olives - gave way to real estate.

Baviera is very saddened by what happened to his ancestral village of Saint Paul, but one must look to the future, he says. He now works in the countryside near Lorgues, where he forts he can get away, to find harmony between his life and the world, and be in touch with nature.

The studio he maintains in Nice is primarily for efficiency, not inspiration. His designs and paintings are conceived in Lorgues. Nice is where they are produced. A giant printing press fills one of the work rooms.

Baviera has invented a type of engraving called polychromy relief which allows him to print multiple colors and, at the same time, make indentations in the soft, thick paper.

He uses the technique as a means of combining painting and engraving to produce his soft landscapes of the mind, so intricately etched with the scratchy traces of mankind.


New Riviera Cote d’Azur

Summer’97 N°30

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Art Critic






(extract of the catalog of exhibition)





"Our eyes are the windows to our soul" says a traditional Japanese proverb.


To the Japanese who take for granted the concept that "Our eyes are the windows to our soul", Baviera's "windows" series includes that very element which captivates their attention.


Baviera's work, which reflects the imbalance between the universe and the modern people as its main theme, has in both a sense of urgency and a feeling of restfulness. This is so because while his work serves to bring out his critical view of reality, it also is a direct reflection of the artist's hearful idealism toward life itself.


Although Baviera's expressions tend to be controlled, his use of repeated application of colors often brings out an astonishing effect, thus producing a real and abstract image to his work.


In each plane of the picture there is a mixture of various concepts or a combination of different view points, all embodied in Baviera's recurring theme of "windows". With the use of the inner frame as a compositional element, Baviera further provides the viewer a glimpse into his "windows" - the spiritual world of his creation.


No doubt Baviera's use of shaped canvas is unique. To expand on the use of this method, he even creates new techniques such as aquagraphy and polychromie, along with the use of the more conventional methods of oil painting and etching. By doing this he creates an "another world" marked by his own artistic order. You might say that his "another world" is one full of unexpected allegories and fascinating lyricism.





Art Critic

June, 1991


Henri Baviera in his studio
Henri Baviera - Farigan - acrylic on canvas
Henri Baviera - Kalist - acrylic on canvas
About Henri Baviera -  Through the looking-glass (New Riviera) About Henri Baviera -  "Traces et Breches" (article in English)
About Henri Baviera -  The Magical Windows of Baviera
Henri Baviera - Shagan - acrylic on canvas


Henri Baviera in his studio
Henri Baviera - Farigan - acrylic on canvas
Henri Baviera - Kalist - acrylic on canvas
About Henri Baviera -  Through the looking-glass (New Riviera) About Henri Baviera -  "Traces et Breches" (article in English)
About Henri Baviera -  The Magical Windows of Baviera
Henri Baviera - Shagan - acrylic on canvas