The next exhibition of Favardin & de Verneuil wants to bare witness to this renewed interest of the
emerging art scene for figurative painting.
Following their will to promote artists little-exposed in France, the gallery will present Joe Becker (Canadian), Jarmo Mäkilä (Finnish), David O’Kane (Irish), Eamon O’Kane (Irish), Axel Pahlavi (Iranian), Sebastian Schrader (German) and Kari Vehosalo (Finnish).
The gallery chose this exhibition title to echo one of the key books by Enrique Vila-Matas. Montano’s
Malady is described by the author as a literature obsessive sickness affecting a writer obsessed with literature and unable to distinguish between real life and fictional reality. In this sort of intimate diary, calling forth the notion of Doppelgänger, the narrator is embodied in the double form of a critic
of literature mixing schizophrenically his inmost thoughts and memories with those of other authors
and a writer who can only describe the world through quotations and literary references.
Peering into the various contemporary approaches to the medium to find a common denominator to those international artists, the gallery wanted to stress this mise-en-abyme of a literature talking about literature to compare it to this empathy phenomenon shared by many contemporary artists nowadays, in their emotional relationships to the world and to history. Like Montano’s character,these artists embed elements of the past as far as to merge them with their own history. Where theviewer is not called upon to recognize images or styles but to recall.
In their practices, the artists presented in this exhibition get close to this psychological processclose to empathy. They are nurtured by pre-existing images and shapes inundating contemporary society : photography, movies, TV images, video games, highbrow and pop cultures. But far from a mere collage, quotation or parody, those artists create syncretic works which don’t call for erudition but memory.
Didn’t Christian Boltanski confide us recently that an artist cannot represent reality ? He has just to deal with memory, this deteriorated vision, and possibly distorted part of reality. Those traces of memory and the past are founding elements of our Present.
Laurent de Verneuil
Born in 1978, lives and works in Toronto.
Joe Becker graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design. He recently achieved a residency at the Pilotenkeuche studio at the Spinnerei in Leipzig studying under Professor Neo Rauch.
From his beginnings, the Canadian artist has been a true admirer of the painters of the 17th century Dutch and Flemish, not only for their technics but also for the type of subject matters they ventured into. More recently, the artist has rediscovered David Teniers the Younger and others who tackled the subject of The Temptation of St. Anthony who have been a major influence on his recent body of work. Many formal and stylistic references to the Belgium Master can be found in his work, like this bestiary of monsters, bats, chimera fishes and humananimal hybrids. This whole fauna that you also recognize in many Flemish painters of the same era.
In the finest tradition of Flemish painting, Joe Becker has then acquired outstanding virtuosity in tempera on panel technics and developed a recognizable style. During his residency in Leipzig, the company of contemporary Masters such as Neo Rauch or Tilo Baumgartel has just strengthen the high standards of this painter who spends more than ten hours a day before his easel.
Born in 1952, lives and works in Helsinki.
Jarmo Mäkilä’s career as a painter began in the politically turbulent 1970s. He studied at the University of Art and Design of Helsinki from 1970 to 1970 and at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts until 1973. And from 1988 to 1994, he‘s been teaching at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts.
Having intially painted working-class subjects, in the 1980s Mäkilä moved his attention to the glossy worlds of consumption and popular culture. Combining media images with mythological motifs, the paintings made Mäkilä one of the foremost postmodern painters in Finland. In the 2000s Mäkilä has turned his gaze on himself to tackle more intimate and universal subjects alltogether.
In canvases bearing a more psychoanalytic aspect, the artist calls forth his own memories of childhood mixed with Finnish mythologies and literary or artistic references to exceed the intimate sphere to reach a universal language.
Born in 1985, lives and works between Berlin and Leipzig.
David O’Kane studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and graduated with Distinction from the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig under professor Neo Rauch. He currently attends a Master Class residency with the famous German painter.
The artist has a broad practice (photography, animation, film, painting and drawing) in which media have a symbiotic relationship. He’s been especially enthralled and influenced by Jan Švankmajer’s films in the way this latter doesn’t shield from terrifying and uncanny aspects of reality. O’Kane considers animation to be a distillation of real time, in a process of appropriation, authentification and destruction.
His animated paintings, such as the Doppelgänger series, are influenced by William Kentridge’s short films and enable him to go beyond the boundaries of painting, without negating painting itself. In the form of stereoscopic mirror images, the artist portrays famous writers interested in bending time (Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, Oscar Wilde, ...) who fascinated him with their ideas of the infinite, the circular and the laryrinthine. But it s eems that their ideas are as important as their presence itself in the work. Their portrait is not a recording of their personality but rather the opposite, a dissolution of personality through time and subjectivity.
Born in 1974, Eamon O’Kane studied at the University of Fine Arts, Ulster in Belfast and at the Parson School of
Design, New York. He’s been teaching from 2007 to 2010 at the University of West of England, Bristol and, since
2011, at the Fine Arts Academy in Bergen, Norway.
Eamon O’Kane has exhibited widely in Europe and United States since 1999. O’Kane is an artist not used to
restricting himself to one medium. Painting, installation, photography, and drawing are all areas that he has
worked widely in.
The Irish artist is obsessed by modernist architecture and its surrounding. From 2008 on he represents the seminal buildings from the history of architecture (Frank Lloyd Wright, Eileen Gray, Lacaton Vassal, Alvar Aalto, ...) and imagines them situated within the ground of his parents house in rural Ireland. The artist sets modernist architecture back in idealistic environments and imagines an architectural utopia where life and the production of art coexist in perfect harmony.
Sebastian Schrader lives and works Berlin. He graduated in 2007 from the Academy of Fine Arts, Berlin-Weissensee under professor Werner Liebmann.
Sebastian Schrader is one of the most interesting artists of the Berlin emerging art scene. He invites us to question the meaning of a confrontation of a painter of the 21st century and the techniques of the old masters. However, this focus on slowness is not so much an attempt to perfect painting technique as a way of achieving clarity.
If Schrader seems to be absorbed in rendering the fine details of a drape, this is just a trick. His mind remains vivid and concerned by issues of his time, questions of progress and the individual. In an essay, Schrader examines phenomena of the “self” and emphasizes the fact that whereas smell, taste, libido, pain and countless other feelings and reactions can be pinpointed in the human brain, no such fixed location exists for the “ego”. So is the “ego” a mere software ? Such questions naturally set in motion a chain of thought that runs from the individual and the masses, via globalization, society, power, through to painting. This rich territory is where Schrader finds his material, where pictures take root, and where we can situate the distinctive quality of his painting.
Born in 1975, lives and works in Berlin.
Axel Pahlavi studied at the National Academy of Arts, Sofia (Bulgaria). Within a few years’ time he studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and visited different artist residencies in New York and Berlin. He also graduated from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris with unanimous distinction from the jury.
As a mirror image to his works his career is a mixture of systems and personal experiences drawn from his numerous origins (Iranian, French, German, Kurdish, ...). In an autobiographical works, the artist leads us through a maelstrom of anachronistic styles. This disparity is not premeditate and refers to classicism, comics, splatter films and science fiction movies. Drawing feelings from everyday life, Pahlavi takes up 80s popular imaging, if not referencing to Goya or Gericault and backing up his work with the history and technique of Bulgarian, German, French or American art. He’s not interested though in a mere formal citationism recreation. He keeps on tracking down a kind of transcendence, a place for possible experimentation. The artist actually claims a sort of schizophrenic state of mind, a will to explore simultaneously many systems, to intertwine styles : « I try to tell the living in a timeless and never-ending comedy drama ».
Born in 1982, lives and works in Helsinki.
Kari Vehosalo graduated from Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Fine Arts and Aalto University, University of Art and Design.
Painting with such detailed and photorealist rendering, in the same vein as hyperrealism, allows to cut himself off from the current art market standards. So insane as it can be, the artist chooses such a time consuming technique for the value he finds in the slow process of painting, which has been this luxury fetish object for so long. He deals with this special connotation, with this aspect about the medium, that great and historical events that where usually pictured in paintings have lost their capability to tell the absolut truth.
In his grisaille paintings, the artist puts into perspective the history of painting in a sarcastic way by confronting those two anachronistic verities : painting and photography. Since our great stories are nothing more than relics of the past, Vehosalo states that painting that resemble photos is quite working as a metaphor for the greatness that we once possessed. It also distances the situation from our immediate reality and enables a more neutral point of view. In that sense, the 50s and 60s eras are dear to him for they strongly portray the pure ideological believes in progress and hope for a better future. « The emancipation of men of course didn’t happen, and the failed promise is something we have to overcome. Our goal is the main question to ask - what the greek called “telos”. What are we moving towards to ? Art cannot answer this question, but it can make the question itself more clear. »