Jean-Luc Verna — Vous n’êtes pas un peu beaucoup maquillé ?



Jean-Luc Verna
Vous n’êtes pas un peu beaucoup maquillé ?

Past: January 10 → March 1, 2021

The birds drawn by Verna are like the birds recounted by Aristotle in his History of Animals: they come to us out of a mass of observations whose veracity can neither be established nor called into doubt. So we can’t put any faith in Chaval’s notion that “Birds are jerks.” While the Greek philosopher informs us that “In old age the upper beak of the eagle grows gradually longer and more crooked, and the bird dies eventually of starvation”1, our tattooed artist teaches us that there are birds that fly backwards (Mal monté, 2020), or upwards (Because the Night, 2020) or that at least one gallinaceous species has pearls instead of a crest (Dernier Cri II, 2020). Other birds fly decapitated (Head Cut, 2020). Unless they split in all sorts of ways, depending either on the spectator’s viewpoint (This Corrosion, 2020) or on various twinning effects (Bollock Brothers and Eve White, Eve Black, 2020).

Whatever the case, they’re never too made-up. For some years now the appearance of birds in Jean-Luc Verna’s drawings has been a source of wonderment. Far from having abandoned the kingdom of artifice we know as his customary terrain, these recent drawings reveal a practice founded on the analogy between art and living systems, which has it that art borrows its forms from the living world or, at the very least, from its more or less scientifically possible representations. Here, as we see Aristotle vacillating between mythical thinking and logical classification, it has to be said that myth comes closer to Verna’s version. To the flightiness of his volatile vision. Our feathered friends are at once a form-hoard for him to draw on and the receptacle for his obsessions and personal mythology. We’re also going to find, in this new exhibition at Air de Paris, drawings that link titles from his musical pantheon (Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, etc.) to landscapes, record sleeves, birdless environments freed of all context. Not to mention clowns’ heads, the ultimate unmissable species for his naturalist’s eye. And finally a huge stage curtain to pass through into the exhibition space, a metaphor for the penetrating gaze he invites us to share. For we, spectators of the drawings of the great Verna, are like the little ones of the swallow: “If you prick out the eyes of swallow chicks while they are yet young, the birds will get well again and will see by and by.”2

Vincent Romagny

1 Aristotle, The History of Animals, trans. Theodorus Gaza. First Rate Publications, IX, 32, 15.

2 Aristotle, The History of Animals, VI, 5, 15.

Air de Paris Gallery Gallery
Map Map
93 Seine-St-Denis Zoom in 93 Seine-St-Denis Zoom out

43, rue de la Commune de Paris

93230 Romainville

T. 06 52 07 78 74

Bobigny – Pantin – Raymond Queneau

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 10 AM – 6 PM

The artist

  • Jean-Luc Verna

From the same artist