For some fifteen years, Jean-Luc Blanc has been selecting printed images taken from films, postcards, press photographs, magazines, etc. that he compiles and disorganises. These images (partially brought together in the exhibition for the first time) form the core of his creative drive. His works draw upon them according to an unalterable process. At some point in time, an image will pop up, catching the artist almost unawares. By isolating a motif, he makes it his own. Removed from its context, the isolated motif is then reworked on paper or canvas, with pencil or oils. It is reframed, more often in close-up and can even undergo several successive treatments ranging from layered-type texturing to cosmeticoadvertising style smoothing. such a modus operandi gives the artistís works their ambiguous, enigmatic character.
Whatever the case, the reworked, vampired motif can prove to be unnerving.Whilst Jean-Luc Blancís drawings and paintings appear to form a compilation of deja vu, in fact they break away it. By substantially modifying the images from which he works, Jean-Luc Blanc lends them with a new significance.He gives them a different voice, activates their potential. He gives them a new charge.
Whether it be the numerous faces which challenge and stare at the visitor or the inhabited still life portraits scattered over the interzone between the world of the dead and that of the living, all these works exert both fascination and repulsion because they play on the very notion of petrifaction. The resultant “atmospheric” perceptive unease is all the more persistent as the apparent simplicity of these quasi cinematographic lampoons and the very ordinariness of the intent, barefaced stars, starlets and nonentities make it impossible, at the outset, to understand the long process of maturation behind their creation. For that reason, in particular, the exhibition has been designed as an area of acclimation which does not claim to “reveal the secret behind each image”, to quote the artist, but rather to explore further
the imagination with which they are imbued.
For the occasion, over two hundred of the artistís works have been brought together in the thirteen rooms of the Foy gallery, extended by an epilogue, two stairwells and a lift cage. With the complicity of the curator, Alexis Vaillant, following a dialogue with the artist through which the exhibition took shape, it has been decided to combine the works of Jean-Luc Blanc (drawings and pictures from 1986 to 2009) with those of forty five historic and contemporary artists and with notably numerous artefacts, antiques, jewels, crystals, curios and naturalia, whom Jean-Luc Blanc feels empathy with.
Conceived in the spirit of a playful inquiriy and «flânerie» characteristic of the dandyism of the artist, this collective retrospective highlights the idea that the artistís production can be inhabit on the same level as its mental “backdrop”. An idea through which on can presume that what is enacted on stage (the artistís production proper) and what is concocted backstage (the area of influences) are intrinsically linked and deserve more than an illustrated text in a catalogue. The links that follow from the visual and conceptual connections produced are opposite to the obituary and necrological nature of the of regular retrospectives which focus on t the most representative works of the artist. Finally, the exhibition has been designed as a ROCK OPERA where the works, the majority of which are on view for the first time in France, interact with those of the artist in a «glam« and spectral space set to music byMr Learn. Visitors thus move through a personal, developed aesthetic pantheon closer to the “potential space” than to some disembodied brainstorming.
Jean-Luc Blanc was born in nice in 1965. He graduated from the Villa Arson at the end of the 1980ís, took part in the major French exhibitions of the early 1990ís such as “French Kiss 2” and “Il faut construire l'hacienda”, squatted a ruined studio at the Hopital Ephémère, easily sold his drawings, wandered the night dressed in black leather accompanied by a wolf with gold spangled eyes, watched several films a day and appeared sometimes on television in a slot for night owls. He adopted Paris as his city in 1990.