Jean Le Gac

Born in 1936 in Tamaris (FR)
Lives and works in Paris (FR)

Le délassement du peintre français (avec lanterne, femme et tableau)

Pencil, chalk on paper, black and white photograph, gelatin-silver print, text
105 x 75 cm
Year of Purchase: 1985

Jean Le Gac is fond of mixing genres. Le délassement du peintre français (avec lanterne, femme et tableau) The Relaxation of the French Painter (With Lantern, Woman and Picture) is a diptych which combines painting (drawing, pastel) and photography. The lower part includes a typed text, in fact the fragment of the narrative which runs throughout the series to which this work belongs. For this painter is a writer, too, who challenges the origins of his artistic calling, and reflects on the role of the artist and the illustrative function of painting (‘The repressed factor of modern art’). The upper part seems taken from an old picture book, partly erased and incomplete. In a word, the work is a montage, cinematographic meaning of the term included. Is it a self-portrait? Is Jean Le Gac the ‘French painter’ of the title? And if he is, what is he meant to be ‘relaxing’ from? From his painterly profession? But perhaps, after all, it is merely a fiction whose ins and outs elude us, the fragment of a puzzle whose scattered pieces belong to a global project to which this refers us? People have managed to interpret the series Le délassement de peintre français as a rereading of Velazquez’s famous Las Meninas, where the picture within the picture constitutes at once a piece of pictorial bravura and a meditation on representation and the act of painting. The artist penetrates his own picture; he intrudes upon it. Not so that he should be seen, but in order to look at himself, in a disconcerting mise en abyme – an endless repetition.

Olivier Goetz