Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
A satirical chronicler of the art, design, and fashion worlds and their characters, Paris-based painter and illustrator Jean-Philippe Delhomme brought his imagined subjects to Wright in New York for an exhibition titled “From Late Modern to Used Cars.” Delhomme presents two series of works: “The Visitors” and “The Brooklyn Rail,” both of which act as a sort of documentation of the imagined characters he creates through his observations.
For “The Visitors,” a series of large scale oil pastel portraits of personas relative to Delhomme’s usual subjects (artists, dealers, collectors), the artist aimed to recreate stylized, cultured characters and bring them to life in a typical environment: a gallery. “The Brooklyn Rail” paintings display a similar approach to Delhomme’s process of observation and documentation but serve as more of a criticism of art, politics, and culture, rather than a satirical representation.
Whitewall spoke with Delhomme about his influences and the choices he made for the series.
WHITEWALL: Why combine “The Brooklyn Rail”and “The Visitor?” What did the two bring together that they could not separately?
JEAN-PHILIPPE DELHOMME: They are both works made on found paper during the same period of time. “The Visitors” were inspired by an imaginary world of Upper East Side collectors, people who would have been invited to the inaugural Guggenheim show, and who’d own some Late Modern gems rather than some splashy contemporary — I would have more tenderness for these characters than to body-built tattooed billionaires — and the “Brooklyn Rail” paintings by some of the disappearing aspects of the Bushwick neighborhood — two not-so-opposite vanishing worlds.
One might say high and low, but the high and low is something which I always loved and find the most inspiring and stimulating. It’s what I love in music and in art too. The work which started this series [“Brooklyn Rail”] was a painting that I did on a page of the magazine with a translation of a Situationist text, “The Revolution of Every Day.” I never could read the Situationists, but one thing I dig from them was the concept of drifting (dérive) — drifting as a poetical activity. The “Brooklyn Rail” paintings are some kind of dérive.
WW: Why did you choose to paint on “The Brooklyn Rail,” and what do you think the effects of choosing to work on top of the text are?
JPD: I took The Brooklyn Rail pages as found objects, just like something rejected by the sea and found on a beach has some poetic quality and can ignite your imagination. I was much taken by the intellectual vibe of The Brooklyn Rail, reminiscent of my own readings and fascination for the world of intellectuals. It seemed less commercial than anything else and nostalgic of a period of time when being a broke philosopher was more valued than being a fuck-you, new rich – but did it ever exist? And I loved the poetry pages. The titles of the poem and the calligraphy of the texts were often a starting point. I would paint a juxtaposition of things seen in the day during my walks in the neighborhood, trucks, signs in decay, industrial yards, and those poems. I love the fragility of the poems, of the paper itself — the fact that it was a free magazine, and as all free magazines, it drifts away.
WW: What drew you originally to Bushwick?
JPD: I shared a studio with two friends who had been pioneers in that neighborhood. I was fascinated by it — the sense of space, the skyline seen in the distance that made the city more poetic and less of a real estate booklet than seen from close. I loved the fact that you had all these car repair shops, metal scrap yards, trucks parked. I found it very exciting for the eye, and felt a great sense of freedom. Of course anything genuine is fast replaced by a smart business for the constantly growing population of artists. You hardly see somebody who is not an artist on the sidewalk. It’s sometime touching, and sometimes feels a bit absurd. How would it feel to be in a whole neighborhood where everybody would be a lawyer?
“From Late Modern to Used Cars” is on view at Wright New York through August 23.