Gracie Mansion Gallery
Opening Reception: Wednesday, 3 November 1999
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Gracie Mansion Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings by Jacques Flèchemuller. This group of works entitled "Back to Square One" was inspired by two watershed events in his life.
Flèchemuller was born Jacques Muller in Monaco and later moved to Paris. It was there that the artist first became aware of art through the calendars that were given out by the post office. Everyone had one of these calendars hanging in their kitchen and he reveled in the images of kittens, puppies and happy children. He looked forward to each new month and its accompanying image with blissful anticipation. This was the foundation for his awareness of the power of art to elicit pure joy, free of judgment. When it was made evident to him that these images, in fact, were not art, he was devastated. What he was taught to be art never produced in him that same uncomplicated feeling of happiness.
He attended the Beaux-Arts in Paris and had his first one-person show in 1972. While a student, he heard that Albert Ayler, an African-American saxophone player and composer was going to be performing at the Maeght Foundation. Excited that he could have an opportunity to see him in person, he and his friends traveled to the south of France one evening to see him perform.
After the performance, Ayler was approached by a man from a neighboring village who explained that every Saturday they have a dance in the village and the musician who was supposed to play was not able to perform. He asked Ayler if he would come and play for his village. To everyone’s amazement, he agreed and Jacques and his friends followed. Into the night, this famous jazz musician played request after request for tangos, waltzes and polkas. At the end of the evening, they asked Ayler why he had agreed to perform for this village and he told them that his dream was to have a little band and go from village to village playing music and living a less complicated life. A few months later, Jacques saw an article in the paper that said that Albert Ayler had been killed. He and his friends decided then and there to do something to honor this man. In 1974, they put together a circus and called it "Albert and his Band" and each member decided what part they would like to play. Jacques decided to be a magician, sticking knives through his arms and eating fire. He was given the name "Flèche" which means "arrow" because he was so fast and the name stuck. Until 1982, this group of anarchists traveled around the country, performing everywhere they could. They became very famous and the money that he made as part of this circus enabled him to continue painting.
During this period, he was represented by Galerie Jeanne Bucher who also represented Dubuffet, De Stael, Nevelson and Tobey. In 1982, Flèche moved to New York and since then has shown at Anne Plumb Gallery, Jamison Thomas Gallery, Annina Nosei Gallery and Thea Westreich, among others. His work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and museums in Europe.
In this show, Flèchemuller celebrates the times in our lives when anything was possible and the world that lay ahead of us was filled with unlimited possibilities. In going back to square one, he paints for the shear joy of painting. Through his images of crying kittens, a puppy in a shoe or a baby covered in bubble bath, Flèche picks away at our layers of cynicism and judgmental tendencies to reveal the soft flesh of our youth and its purity of spirit. They embrace a time when art was something that produced a feeling of uninhibited joy. These apparently simple paintings however, reveal themselves upon closer viewing.
Please contact Gracie Mansion Gallery for more information.