Jean-Michel Alberola

Le roi de rien, la reine d’Angleterre et les autres

An unclassifiable artist, Jean-Michel Alberola has devised a multi-faceted exhibition for Galerie Templon: The King of Nothing, the Queen of England and the Others.

Jean-Michel Alberola – Le roi de rien, la reine d’Angleterre et les autre, TEMPLON Paris, 2021
Jean-Michel Alberola – Le roi de rien, la reine d’Angleterre et les autre, TEMPLON Paris, 2021

Canvases, silkscreens, papers and a painted wall lay down the markers for an enigmatic and engrossing journey, where figurative fragments, abstract elements, literary and musical evocations intermingle.

The exhibition is named after the “Roi de rien” series, started about fifteen years ago, which sees the artist relentlessly creating a mysterious seated portrait with bare feet. As a counterpoint, subtle monochromes in the colours of Queen Elizabeth II seem to respond to them. In the manner of a philosophical puzzle, these paintings question the issue of power, the dichotomy between reality and appearance, function and representation.

Reflecting on the challenges facing painters, the role of the artist in society and the ends of art, Alberola’s oeuvre builds on visual and semantic associations.

The figure of Franz Kafka appears in a new series evoking the writer’s many homes. Music is omnipresent and embodied in paintings paying tribute to the artist’s personal pantheon, from the mythical Californian band Grateful Dead to the Rolling Stones hit Gimme Shelter. Jean-Michel Alberola concludes with pieces echoing these musical revolutionaries in a nod to the masters of American art, from De Kooning to Robert Rauschenberg.

As always, the artist focuses on telling stories, recounting the necessary syncretism between a work and its intellectual filiations. As this secretive artist explained in 2019 in one of his rare interviews, “I tell stories all the time, in life, in my paintings. That is all I do, tell stories. In any case, painting has always told stories, from Poussin and Velasquez to Mondrian, they all tell stories. Everything we do is autobiographical, so it is our own story. What we do is about the world, we recount the world as we see it. Art is no exception. “

L’étoile rouge (TATLIN), Chapitre 1


The artist

Born in 1953 in Saïda, Algeria, Jean-Michel Alberola lives and works in Paris. During his thirty-year career he has produced a protean body of work that straddles figurative, abstract and conceptual art. Gouaches, sculptures, artists’ books and films represent the different facets of his exploration of the fragility of beauty, ambiguity of perception, the role of the artist and the purpose of art. With the mixture of humour and lyricism characteristic of an engaged artist, he combines artistic reflections with political and social questions. 

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