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Saturday, May 03, 2014

Philippe Charles Jacquet

Philippe Charles Jacquet is not simply a painter of landscapes; he is a creator. Jacquet has mastered the ability to combine what is real and what is imagined. As a result, his compositions, heavily inspired by Brittany coasts and estuaries, have an element of the sublime and register deeply with the subconscious. Although he paints sparse landscapes there is something fundamentally pleasing in the surreal, idealized quality of his work.

Adventurous by nature, Jacquet loves open spaces and the sea ... Painting is his way of telling stories, those he would have liked to live, those he could not live. His landscapes are timeless decors, aspirations towards infinity.

Jacquet was trained as an architect at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs.  After pursuing his career in architecture, he decided to dedicate himself solely to painting and has been doing so for six years. One can detect his background in architecture in his heavily symmetrical, geometric landscapes.  However, he successfully offsets the very calculated appearance of architectural compositions with rich colors and an intriguing variety of surfaces ranging from glass-like water to rusted, flaking hulls of barges.

Dreams, day visions, open fields, oceans, endless plains, fountains, boats lying and forgotten… An imaginary world, of infinite detail and rigorous lines. A very particular and mysterious atmosphere. A universe lying somewhere between fantasy and reality.

Jacquet is entirely self-taught and his painting technique undoubtedly sets him apart from other artists.  Working in gloss paint, an industrial medium, he begins by painting his plywood surface with a uniform base of an off-white color.  This medium allows him to achieve remarkably smooth surfaces.  Each area of the composition is approached differently; sometimes textures are created using several transparent layers while others are achieved through the use of a razor blade to scratch away at the surface.

Jacquet takes extra care when approaching the houses that often appear in his paintings. He builds, rather than paints these structures, often composing them on paper and later transferring them onto the backdrop. They effectively serve as reminders of a human presence in these expansive, dream-like landscapes.

I visited yesterday the Jacquet exhibition at Axelle, on Newbury Street. Firstly it called in my mind the old joke about Vivaldi: did he compose three hundred violin concertos or rather three hundred times the same violin concerto?  You see one painting of Jacquet, it's like seeing all of them. I smiled at this thought and started to look at each work of him. And little by little I began to realize that the joke was more or less inappropriate in this case: the artist has a very singular and solid approach and sticks to it. A unique story that belongs to the realm of imaginary, or of transcendent, wrapped under the appearance of objective and neutral reality. Each painting is like that, you feel something strange and powerful beyond, his lakes and oceans and buildings like gates to the infinitum. That gives greatness to his apparent objectivity. But I have to show you here some of his works, I'll do it very soon.


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