Jean-Philippe Delhomme – Studio aux Formes Variables
The title of the exhibition – Studio aux Formes Variables – is a reference to Daniel Buren famous 1960s series of Peinture aux Formes Variables that signaled a radical departure of painting from studio practice, authorship and developed the concept of work in situ. To this day, Buren’s radical rejection of painting as individual expression and personal style informs the critical discourse in France where it perpetrates an ambiguous fascination/rejection of the medium.
In his previous exhibition, Bushwick Landscape Delhomme demonstrated the freedom of painting landscape from direct observation. He presented a series of small urban landscapes as seen from the vantage point of his Brooklyn studio.. The body of work in Studio aux Formes Variables brings back the same setting as he redirects his gaze inside the studio itself, exploring its vernacular in both form and function, with only few occurrences of the outside that until now had captured his attention. The arc from direct observation of his immediate surrounding to a painting executed in a rapid tempo is an affirmation of existence in the Here and Now of the studio stage. The painting’s finality does not rely on the subject matter that is more happenstance than choice or decision – The vast emptiness of the Ridgewood studio, its sweeping views of Manhattan skyline, the tools of painting – stretchers, canvases, boxes of color, lights – the duration of his presence in the studio – speakers for the ambiance, long hours until the middle of the night – the focal points – the city in the distance or the blank wall in front – the lanky visitor who pauses in a blue hoody and jeans one day and in all black attire with a mink stole the next – the finished painting on the wall or still leaning on sawhorses – move from a frame to the next and echo the existential quest of the painter. The series is about promptness (the paintings are executed in one session) and singular moments occurring within a self contained and evolving context. The studio is the mental landscape of Delhomme and his Studio aux Formes Variables paintings draft a self portrait of the artist as a painter.
Delhomme’s painting practice evolved from a different place than rupture with tradition – a place slightly on the outside of the contemporary scene. His pointed illustrations that observe rituals of the well travelled urban tribes are not acerbic. They have kept him deeply connected to the present era and simultaneously have opened to Delhomme a space, independent from his illustrator’s active career, where he can be a painter without any prejudice against the medium. Delhomme has looked at painting outside the critical French dogma and is a long time admirer of David Hockney (who is now celebrated with his Paris retrospective but was frowned upon for many years) and also less known artists in France like Fairfield Porter. With a candor that is more self-confidence Delhomme is not bound by formal constraints and can paint anything from a glistening cityscape at sunset to a stool in front of a bare white wall. An avid reader of Art History and a writer – demonstrated in his “Paris Diary” weekly column in Zeit Magazine (2015) where he followed the steps of Manet, Brassai or Breton throughout the city – he has embraced a serious painting pursuit after a long process of distillation parallel to three decades in the field of illustration.
Jean-Philippe Delhomme has contributed to numerous magazines around the world since the late 80’s, produced award winning ad campaigns, notably for Barneys New York. For the past five years he has focused on his painting practice. He has exhibited works on paper painted on pages of the Brooklyn Rail at Wright Gallery in New York, a series of canvases about Yves Klein’s Anthropometries at FIAF gallery in NY that signaled his interest for the performative dimension of the studio space developed in the current show. He maintains a drawing studio in Paris and a painting studio in Brooklyn where the work that composes Studio aux Formes Variables was developed and is in process.