Gilles Aillaud — Tableaux 1966 — 1976 / Vols d’oiseaux 1990 — 2001



Gilles Aillaud
Tableaux 1966 — 1976 / Vols d’oiseaux 1990 — 2001

Past: October 21 → November 26, 2016

Gilles Aillaud is a painter, and also poet (Dans le bleu foncé du matin, edited by Christian Bourgois), art critic (revue Rebelote), author of prefaces (Hélion, Titina Maselli), and set designer (fifty-two productions with the stage directors Jean Jourdheuil, Klaus Michael Grüber, and Luc Bondy). He has methodically recorded the name of every painting in a class notebook. However, he is said to have painted one painting a day in the 1950s, in a period of complete solitary isolation, between his first exhibition in 1950 in Rome and his exhibition in 1963 at the Galerie Claude Levin. He distanced himself from philosophy, which he studied with Merleau-Ponty, to focus on painting, which he always practiced alone in his studio.

The beautiful title of Gilles Aillaud’s text on Vermeer, Voir sans être vu (Seeing without being seen), could also define all his paintings. Gilles Aillaud looks at the paintings by the master of Delft as he paints his own canvases. He uses oil paints to portraits animals that are clearly visible or hidden away in zoos, landscapes, beaches, mountains, and skies full of flying birds. He never appropriates his subjects: “I paint things as they wish to be painted.” He portrays them, rendering them free of nostalgia, in their picturesque nature. History has seen fit to define him as a painter of animals, as linked to the movement of Narrative Figuration, and as a militant member of the “Jeune Peinture” movement in 1968, a learned expert, and the metaphorical assassin of Duchamp in 1965. Many young painters and amateurs weren’t taken in. The two exhibitions presented in Paris showcase how over two distinct decades much of Gilles Aillaud’s artworks form a unique, subtle, and complex path that stretches far past the society of the spectacle.

 —  At Loevenbruck Gallery, six major paintings from 1966 to 1976, often in large formats, form a veritable museum room. Certain ones haven’t been seen in twenty-five years. The decors in Deux eaux and in Intérieur et hippopotame, give off a cool, white light that contrasts with the electric light of Mangouste, nuit rouge emanating through a glass pane, and also contrasts with the warm golden light of Intérieur jaune et vasistas. The animals are painted at eye level and don’t look at anything in particular: their gaze passes through us, settling on nothing. Gilles Aillaud has an aesthetic eye that is absolute and decisive — a decisive instant as Cartier-Bresson described it. Since his early youth, he and his sister spent time at Jardin des Plantes as others visit museums. During multiple trips to Greece, Egypt, and Kenya, he developed an intimate and private relationship with animals that dispelled him of any form of seduction or naturalist tendencies. He paints enclosed animals with delicacy, with tact, his term for Vermeer’s paintings.

Galerie loevenbruck gilles aillaud medium
Vue de l’exposition Gilles Aillaud — Tableaux 1966-1976, Galerie Loevenbruck Photo © Fabrice Gousset

 —  In the Studiolo of the artist’s longtime gallery Galerie de France (since the 1980s), flights of birds on paintings, long papers unrolled, and collages from 1990-2001 have flown their tight, precise enclosures (virtual portraits of animals in minerals) for the unlimited and unreachable spaces of ultramarine zones, between beach and sky. Some birds fly very high above the horizon, while others, on the contrary, lightly brush the water. Spectator’s look up and trace these nomadic paths, distinguishing the forms that cast shadows, a plump wing of a seagull… A selection of these artworks was shown in the exhibition Deadline at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2009, which underscores for certain artists a freedom finally mastered in their ultimate work.

TABLEAUX 1966-1976 Loevenbruck 6 rue Jacques Callot 75006 Paris

VOLS D’OISEAUX 1990-2001 Le Studiolo Galerie de France 54 rue de la Verrerie 75004 Paris

06 St Germain Zoom in 06 St Germain Zoom out

6, rue Jacques Callot

75006 Paris

T. 01 53 10 85 68 — F. 01 53 10 89 72


Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

Venue schedule

The artist

  • Gilles Aillaud