top of page




"With Rayons series, Thomas Devaux completes his critical vision of the consumer world by reappropriating for the first time the codes of abstract painting, after having long revisited those of classical portraiture. The series brings together photographs of supermarket stalls, blurred to produce broad lines of color with indecisive contours, articulated together in a gradation of light. Very close to certain forms of abstract expressionism, with Rothko's painting at the forefront, each composition is presented as the expression of an optical residue, arranging the remains of a filtered vision reduced to the perception of light waves alone. As minimal as the treatment applied to the images, its title refers both to its original subject (supermarket shelves) and to the optical effect produced by the abstraction process (chromatic beams). Presented alongside The Shoppers series - supermarket customers captured at the checkout - and the installation Cet obscur objet du désir - a minimalist checkout mat with incisive, threatening shapes - the series adopts the color codes of supermarkets (blue, violet, pink, red, orange) to better criticize the underlying marketing strategies. The tensions between vivid hues and black stripes accentuate the seductive power of this standardized palette, the better to invite distrust, by establishing a critical distance between the sublimated chromatic surfaces and the triviality of their models.

In contrast to the black-and-white portraits in The Shoppers, these colorful, non-figurative compositions are presented in an aluminum frame, gilded with gold leaf. Their floating, fleeting rendering produces a double-edged contemplative effect: it can ironically reproduce the conditions of a hypnotic process, similar to the manipulation of customers' attention in supermarkets, or it can, on the contrary, invite patient, unproductive meditation, offering the possibility of extracting oneself from the times of consumption.

Lastly, these evanescent horizon lines suggest a more spiritual reading of the series, reviving the discourse of Kandinsky, Rothko or Newman, for whom abstract painting is an opportunity for metaphysical access. Here, Thomas Devaux continues the deconstruction of religious iconography (Pietà, Madonna, relics) undertaken in his previous series, questioning the new transcendences of the contemporary world. Industry is seen as an external regulating power, organizing mass consumption through a whole range of mercantile symbols. By borrowing the formal vocabulary of divine representation to treat the industrial furniture of supermarkets, Thomas Devaux highlights the subversive power of industry, which fetishizes merchandise as we sacralize icons.

Florian Gaité, art critic and researcher at the ACTE Institute (Sorbonne-CNRS)

bottom of page