Jacques Flechemuller at The Good Luck Gallery
By Sydney Walters
On view through April 2nd
From February 18th to April 2nd, the Good Luck Gallery, noted for highlighting self-taught artists, presents an alluring body of work from the French artist Jacques Flechemuller. A smattering of charcoal drawings as well as oil and gouache paintings, Flechemuller elicits situational comedy that is joyously and refreshingly vulgar.
Stemming from his delight in hand painted road signs in the south of France, Flechemuller paints on top of images he finds. In every instance, snippets of the original image peek through. A shoe here, a cityscape there, and perhaps an article of clothing peppered in between. Flechemuller uses these visual cues as pivot point to import an exaggerated reality with his paintbrush. In fifteen of the sixteen found image paintings, Flechemuller contrives boorish seductions between men and women. Naked women lie next to clothed or partially clothed men in hijacked scenes of gallantry. In one painting, a man tips his hat to a naked woman sitting in a wheat field. In another, a man stares admiringly at his naked lover while they perch in a tree. Protuberant red nipples, not unlike the red berries in the tree, are painted on the pendulous breasts of this woman and all of these women, regardless of if the woman wears clothes.
In a similar revealing manner, pink and red penises hang in between the men’s grayish-blue legs. The color of the legs suggests the man wears trousers, yet ample leg hair covers the man’s legs. A tendency is a lot of his paintings, Flechemuller paints clothes that are not really clothes. Although color differentiation suggests these figures are covered, these men and women are just as revealed as they would be naked. Perhaps he is alluding to the sexual phenomenon of undressing another in their mind’s eye. Sexual maturity, or immaturity depending on perspective, is a perpetuating motif in his work.
An example of this sexual maturity is the body painted hair on the legs and groins of the men and women. The pubescent development of body hair signals a departure from childhood into adulthood. Therefore, the lavishly painted body hair asserts that these figures have matured to adulthood. However, Flechemuller sardonically remarks that although these individuals bear markings of adulthood, their acute sexuality and winsome disposition gesture more toward an uninhibited or childlike persona.
Flechemuller embraces his own inner child in his drawing and painting method by abandoning his background in representational painting. That said, one of the beautiful things about young children is that they do not have a filter. In other words, a child will say what is on her or his mind without heed to social civility. In giving himself permission to offend, Flechemuller conjures a primitive style while upholding some the integrity of representational symbolism. For example, in a large charcoal drawing Flechemuller depicts the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. His version strays significantly from the original particularly in the rendering of Saint Sebastian’s face. An impossibly long neck bristling with stubble leads up to a compressed head of a man wearing a beret. The head being so proportionally small compared to the rest of his body, the effect is humorous rather than somber. Yet Flechemuller maintains the integrity of the violence in his hasty and rigorous gestures with the charcoal. It is that back and forth transaction between humor and darkness and, as in the found image paintings, sexual and grotesque, that Flechemuller stakes his artistic playground. Riding on his ability to repulse and enchant, Jacques Flechemuller asserts that the world is better fully seen within the blurred edges of societal categories.
This exhibit is up until April 2, 2017
945 Chung King Road, Los Angeles, CA 90012