The study of the human figure goes back to Klein’s younger years when he attended the Académie St. Roch in Paris to learn figure drawing. Stylistically, these heroic figures are rooted in Velasquez, in Picasso, in de Kooning, in Bernini’s ecstatic saints, in Rodin, and Duchamp.
Allowing new forms and new materials to enter his practice and imagination in waves, Klein has dedicated the last few years to painting, and before that his sculptural practice dominated his time. Both interchangeable at any time for him, when he dives deeply into something, he is enveloped entirely by the work, the process and the meaning. The visual debate inherent in Klein’s paintings oscillates between abstract and realistic forms, the clichés of pop art, the archetypes of mythology, and the human experience.
His forms—whether painting or sculpture—are haunting and evocative, propelling the viewer’s imagination into a place where time and space are blurred and art is truth. Cultures and genres clash and mingle while representation moves and flows differently but not fictitiously.
In this basin full of culture, Klein finds solace, inspiration, and divination in his paradise of Greece, and his bustling world in Berlin. The exhibition Aegean serves as a reminder and a metaphor, as it recalls an area, a time period, and an adventure. As Ulysses once travelled through time and space from one adventure to another, Klein humbly relates to this epic journey, only through his art. Wandering around art history and its masters as if an actual place to navigate and observe; the mythological moments and meanings relate to Klein, his life, and his work just as well now, as they did when he was a student. Constantly learning and absorbing, Klein’s work is a reflection and expression of his experience of traversing through the world’s history of art, and all those who have come before him.
For many years, these themes and the myths that are associated with Greek mythology have inspired Klein’s imagination and internal dialogue. Due to the temporal distance between the ancient world and today’s world, a tension is created that forms the jumping off point for his work. He is enthralled by mythology, history and the magic between those two things and the stark comparison to today’s world.
An opening reception for Jean Yves Klein's Aegean exhibition will take place at Garboushian Gallery on Saturday, November 5, 2016 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The exhibition will remain on view until December 14, 2016.