The Mayor Gallery will be presenting in April 2013 an exhibition of works by the French artists Jacques Villeglé (b. 1926) and Gil J Wolman (1929-1995). Both artists are emblematic of the 1950-60s Paris art scene. Their work, which prefigures the American Pop Art in many ways, is the expression of the economical and cultural preoccupations of the French post-war society.
Both Graphic Artist and New Realist, Jacques Villeglé developed his fundamental attraction towards “lacerated posters” (affiches lacerées) back in 1949, when together with Raymond Hains, he tore out a 2.56m long poster, “Ach Alma Manetro”, from a fence in Montparnasse in Paris. Since then the French artist has tirelessly collected the residues of modern Paris from the posters found during his aimless walks to the socio-political symbols discovered in 1959 in the capital’s metro. As for Gil J Wolman, he initiated his unique technique of “scotch art” on 18 May 1963 when he decided to use adhesive tape to create works on canvas that would carry the marks of the Glorious Thirty society: new wars, political issues and sexuality. Previous to this body of work, Wolman had for many years composed mégapneumes, poems based upon the breath, and the controversial video installation L'Anticoncept (1951).
The exhibition presents a number of “lacerated posters” by Villeglé conceived in 1965 for the Mat Editions commissioned by another New Realist artist, Daniel Spoerri. For this series he selected and cut out exquisite rectangular elements from large posters that he had collected between 1961 and 1964, composing the pictures like a photographer. Another four large posters are part of the exhibition. The horizontal and almost abstract Rond-point de la Défense (1965) features a Charmoz advertisement where only the bottom part is remaining and shows bare feet standing next to a pair of elegant men’s shoes. Rue du Grenier-Saint-Lazare is part of the series Le Retour de l'Hourloupe inspired by Jean Dubuffet's Hourloupe cycle that the latter initiated in 1962. Villeglé spent nearly a year (from February to December 1975) collecting posters announcing Dubuffet's exhibition at the Centre National d'Art Contemporain (CNAC) in Paris. Villeglé has the undeniable talent of finding beauty in the most unlikely places as well as giving to artworks by other artists or graphic designers, a new momentum.
Also on view in the gallery is a selection of 16 works of “scotch art” by Wolman. Some of these pieces were featured in the major retrospective “Gil J Wolman. I am Alive and Immortal” at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralve in 2010 and 2011, such as “Untitled (Réflexions Réflexions)”, “Untitled (Pin-up)”, “Untitled (Tragédie)”, “Untitled (Force de)” and “Untitled (Mai 68)”. Wolman's unique “scotch art” works on canvas are almost painterly compositions built around a very simple but efficient technique. The artist used adhesive tape to tear off shreds of paper from the printed surface of newspapers and magazines. These long strips of paper when moisten with water are laid on the canvas, and varnished. The entangled compositions of “scotch art” demonstrate the profusion as well as the dissolution of information delivered by the print media.
Jacques Villeglé's (b. 1926, Quimper, France) work is held in important collections internationally, including the Tate Modern, London, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Musée d'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the MoMA, New York and the Fine Art Museum of San Francisco. In 2008 and 2009 a major retrospective of his work Jacques Villeglé, La Comédie urbaine was organised at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Works by Gil J Wolman (1929, Paris – 1995, Paris) are part of the collections of major international museums and institutions such as the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Musée d'art Moderne, Saint-Étienne, France, the MACBA, Barcelona, the Yale University, New Haven.