Jean-Charles de Quillacq — Les poulains deviennent des chevaux


Mixed media

Jean-Charles de Quillacq
Les poulains deviennent des chevaux

Past: January 11 → March 9, 2024

“I was a piece of factory for eternity.” Georges Navel, Travaux [Works], Gallimard, 1995, p.108

How can one rediscover desire when its very mechanics are monopolized by capitalism? Where can our desire still intrude in the plethora of poetic, pornographic, intellectual, psychological, promotional, and political offerings? In the field of ruins of the imaginary, increasingly littered with Instagram images of war victims, portraits of friends who left this world too soon, calls for help from NGOs, and—in their wake—, images of ever more exhibitions we couldn’t see, parties that always look better from afar, clothes that would finally suit our morphology, or the latest accessories needed to help us sleep. Perhaps, in this landscape, art and its unique language remain. A language that is not that of the consumable or even the photographable. To experience art is to feel, in a confused way, that it speaks to us without having to master its language, or even understanding it perfectly. We continue to claim that it remains a gateway to emancipation.

Jean-Charles de Quillacq explores the crossroads between libido and the work of art, making visible connections between sexuality and sculpture. His obsessions grow and follow the pace of his personal exhibitions: posters of the film La gueule ouverte [The Mouth Agape] treated with acetone to attach the artist’s name to the adjective evoking hospitality (Quillacq ouverte, 2010), were the starting point for his first solo exhibition at the gallery in 2016. Here, we find a new series, in which the artist’s name has given way to a simple discoloration of the paper, embellished with drawings (Ouverte (Pialat sous Price)) or collages of a head of Jean de Dieu. The constant recycling of images is at the heart of Jean-Charles’s reflection on the states of our desire in a time of hopeless productivism, including the artist’s desire, embodied by Seth Price, whose drawings he reproduces, fantasizing about an oversized studio production, yield, endurance, and constantly announced and renewed promotion, Jean-Charles De Quillacq Ouverte, invariably.

Georges Navel, a long-time factory worker, thinks of himself as a “piece of factory for eternity.” His book Travaux [Works] details the daily efforts to establish a positive relationship with the outside world and live fully awake, always conscious. To love reality and the work of the moment as long as one is not separated from what feels good. “The more tired you are, the more you expect the extraordinary.” Beyond the body and its fatigue, inner dryness is the real evil. Working with artists, sharing with them this desire to wrest from society its right to existence by reducing the hostility of matter, our sensitivity connected to it, is a common goal that—carried by generous intentions—lifts us from fatigue and moves us towards an attention and a visible delicacy. This movement is contrary to the logic of the exhibition title according to which the world would only become more muscular.

Jean-Charles sees well how to feel alive in the humble activity of rubbing magazine pages with acetone and documenting his own sculptures using photocopies to bring them back to him. It is where the measurement of the void begins, a void that must be relayed by the repetitive and mechanical work from which other stimulations, scenarios that the titles of sculptures judged too long have generated, arise. So the artist directs his thoughts and shows the satisfaction of hands in performing certain tasks. Jean-Charles’s seemingly routine gestures—and the duplications he engages in—bring him joy and sometimes also a somewhat masochistic pleasure in introducing into his own exhibition the working methods of other artists composing a genealogy in line with his sole desire. Jean-Charles is happy like Navel, who, carried by an imperative logic that he recognizes, feels “his intelligence descending into his hands.”


Born in 1979, Jean-Charles de Quillacq studied at ENSBA Lyon and at Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin. He lives in Sussac, Limousin and Zürich, Switzerland. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions, including “Pros”, at Ampersand (Lisbon, 2023), “Ma sis t’aime reproductive”, à art3 (Valence, 2021), “Ma système reproductive” at Bétonsalon (Paris, 2019), “My Tongue Does This to Me”, with Hedwig Houben at La Galerie in Noisy-le-Sec (2018), “Getting a Younger Sister, Thinking to Myself” at the Swiss Art Awards, where he was one of the winners (Basel, 2017), “Je t’embrasse tous” and “Autofiction” both at Marcelle Alix gallery (Paris, 2016 and 2020), and “Four Works in a Rectangle”, Rote Fabrik (Zurich, 2012). He is currently a resident at Villa Medici in Rome.

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The artist

  • Jean-Charles de Quillacq