January 27 - February 24, 2018
Opening on Saturday, January 27, 6-8 pm
galerie frank elbaz is pleased to announce the gallery's first solo show of Jean-Michel Atlan, organized in collaboration with Jacques Elbaz and Denise Atlan.
Let's come back to Atlan's statement: "Like a dancer, I have to feel that the whole of my surface is at my disposal." For Atlan, easel painting means neither constraint (in spatial terms) nor convention (in rhetorical terms). Paradoxically, those limits common to the painters of the said school of Paris and which give such a conventional air to so many works of the time, simply do not apply to Atlan's work. Oils on canvas, pastels, drawings, prints, illustrations, all answer to the same logic, the same underlying necessity, and what dances and will always dance in the painting, while confined to the easel, will never become its hostage. The dancing movement within the painting is livelier than the limits the legacy supposes and might impose: the movement transcends the artefact. Atlan at times seems closer to Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock or other American painters than to his Parisian contemporaries. The difference between the school of Paris and the American painters isn't only a question of format, as some over-hasty systematisers have put it. Atlan paints most of the time within a format, within a framework, which, from a strictly formalist point of view, would make us associate him with the school of Paris - whereas the mystical substratum of his painting, as well as the liberty of his gesture, bring him closer to the Americans, whom he in many ways precedes. Witness, for example, the early works of Clyfford Still. Anyone still able to equate Atlan's work with that of certain members of the school of Paris is thinking only in terms of a system of representation (easel-paintings), with no regard for genetic space. What characterises Atlan's work is that he never loses sight of that genetic space, well aware that it is antecedent to any choice of medium and is never determined by the medium selected.
Alain Bonfand - Translated from the French by Kenneth White
Excerpt from Catalogue Raisonné of the Complete Works
Jean-Michel Atlan (born in 1913 in Constantine, French-Algeria, died in 1960 in Paris, France) was a self-taught artist associated with the avant-garde movement CoBrA. Born in French-Algeria, Atlan studied Philosophy at the Sorbonne. He subsequently became a teacher, but lost his license during World War II because of being Jewish. He then started to paint. In 1956, Atlan's style sharpened moving towards strong, black, sinuous lines surrounding pastel-colored areas which evoke organic associations that seem to portray struggle or dance. That same year, he achieved his breakthrough signing the exhibition poster for the show École de Paris at the Galerie Charpentier, and a solo show at the Galerie Bing in Paris. During the 1950s Atlan received a lot of attention in France, Japan, England and the US, and was considered one of the most important exponents of the Nouvelle École de Paris. Atlan died in his Paris studio on February 12th 1960.
Jean-Michel Atlan, Untitled, 1956, oil on canvas, 81 x 130 cm / 31 7/8 x 51 1/8 in.
© Jean-Michel Atlan Estate