Jacques Villeglé — Alphabet(s)



Jacques Villeglé

Past: March 5 → May 29, 2021

It all began, as always, with an anonymous piece of graffiti that Jacques Villeglé discovered on February 28th 1969 exactly, on the wall of a corridor in the République metro station, representing the name of the American president Nixon, who was then visiting Paris, with the three arrows of the former Socialist party for the N, a Cross of Lorraine for the I, a swastika for the X and a Celtic cross inside the circle of the Jeune Nation movement for the O. Jacques Villeglé memorised it, as he memorised all of the unique pieces of writing which he came upon subsequently (cultural, street, and writers’ alphabets) and which, combined, became the source material for his constantly evolving socio-political alphabet, the matrix of drawings and writings to come.

“You can make a painting with a page of writing”. Jacques Villeglé never forgot this phrase by Picasso which he read aged 21 and which has accompanied him ever since. With the socio-political alphabets, which he has been essentially focused on since 2000, the “father of graffiti artists” transforms writing into images, in his own way. His texts and alphabets are simultaneously graphic, poetic, and visual works. The sequences of signs and symbols are as important as the ensembles which they make up — ensembles that speak to all of the senses, left and right brain included. The reading of the phrases and aphorisms borrowed from others and drawn, transposed and transcribed on paper, canvas, etc, is a kind of decoding, or deciphering. Jacques Villeglé, an amateur of typography, graphism and cryptography (a term that featured in his agenda on February 21st 1958 exactly), takes pleasure, with the socio-political alphabet, in awakening our gaze. He teaches us how to see, how to read, how to grasp and consider the sum of urban traces and everyday signs in a new light, restoring their beauty and mystery.

“Maybe I would like the graffiti of popular expression, those deviant phenomena that inspire disrespect, to compete with the hegemonic epigraphy of Western culture; for these signs drawn from the triviality of the everyday to be considered as the equals of formal inscriptions […]”, he wrote in 1995 in Une épigraphie sauvage.

Barbara Soyer
06 St Germain Zoom in 06 St Germain Zoom out

33/36, rue de Seine

75006 Paris

T. 01 46 34 61 07 — F. 01 43 25 18 80



Opening hours

Every day except Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM

Venue schedule

The artist

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