Jean-Luc Mylayne “The Autumn of Paradise” at Fondation Vincent van Gogh, Arles
How can one compare Vincent van Gogh and Jean-Luc Mylayne? Do we not associate these two names with lives and works that could not be more different from each other? We are certainly not instantly struck by any biographical or stylistic common ground or similarity of subject matter that would justify such a juxtaposition, but at the heart of these two artistic imaginations and the approach they take, we do find an abstract and, indeed, fundamental aspect that merits a closer look. It is the concept of time that crystallizes in their art via their chosen mediums, albeit each with a new “epochal” twist-painting in Van Gogh’s case, photography in Mylayne’s. While Vincent van Gogh accentuated the speed with which he painted in an unprecedented way,1 Mylayne adds slowness, the prolongation of time to the process of taking pictures. […]
At the same time, there is an irresistible charm and attraction in the serenity and affinity with the natural environs that permeate Mylayne’s challenging photographic compositions. It is, however, the aplomb with which the artist elaborates each and every detail, no matter how small, that transforms these photographs into veritable “tableaux”,2 into complex works of art.
The artistic procedure is linked to a model and way of life, based on prolonged preparation “in the field” and direct confrontation, in order to give free rein to perception, to submit to the landscape, to the natural environs, to worldly and cosmic relations. Here too, Van Gogh and Mylayne share common ground. We mustn’t forget Van Gogh’s observation that people who accused him of painting too quickly had not taken enough time to study and appreciate his work.3
In the artists’ emphasis on earth and sky we recognize the distinct contingencies of their respective eras, eloquently demonstrated by their different responses to the demands of art and time, and also by the courage, commitment and tenacity with which they refuse to toe the line of the times. Neither Van Gogh nor Mylayne ride the waves.
curated by Bice Curiger
1. Van Gogh describes and even invokes this acceleration countless times in his letters: “Old gold yellow landscapes—done quick quick quick and in a hurry, like thereaper who is silent under the blazing sun, concentrating on getting the job done.” Letter 633 to Émile Bernard, 27 June 1888, and “As for landscapes, I’m beginning to find that some, done more quickly than ever, are among the best things I do. … Don’t believe, then, that I would artificially maintain a feverish state – but you should know that I’m in the middle of a complicated calculation that results in canvases done quickly one after another but calculated long beforehand. And look, when people say they’re done too quickly you’ll be able to reply that they looked at them too quickly.” Letter 635 to Theo van Gogh, 1 July 1888.
2. A term proposed by Lynne Cooke in Jean-Luc Mylayne, Into the Hands of Time (exh. cat. Madrid: Museo Nacional centro de Arte Reina Sofia, 2010), p. 16.
3. See note 2.
at Fondation Vincent van Gogh, Arles
until 10 February 2019