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Culture

Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé urban tears and lacerations

by Alain Chivilò

© Alain Chivilò


The news is now official. Rest in peace Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé. The French Master died on Monday 6 June 2022, in Paris, at the age of 96. The media announcement was made the following day by the Center Pompidou. One of the last decans of modern-contemporary Art and of the twentieth century left earthly life through an artistic process that tried to propose a visual reality with unconventional ways and means through a new urban recomposition. His torn posters revived in the simplicity of his intervention, leaving artistic traces taken from a wall or other supports, always visible along the streets of the city, outside his studio. Superimpositions of communicative memories for a learned assemblage.
In summary, Jacques Villeglé has created and supplied urban languages ​​in a new appearance for infinite alphabets made of images, colors, words, symbols and signs. Breton origin, born in 1926 in Quimper, he lived and worked in Paris. Villeglé was also known for belonging to the Nouveaux Réalisme movement, theorized by Pierre Restany, with the artists Hains, Arman, Dufrene, Klein, César, Spoerri, Tinguely and Rotella.
In 2008, France paid him the right tribute with a retrospective at the Center Pompidou in Paris. Jacques Villeglé with Raymond Hains elaborates a new form of language starting from the tearing of public posters. Villeglé’s research started with posters that had a graphism characterized by linguistic signs and phonic accents that created a balance of syllables and letters.
The messages of the posters lose the initial purpose for which they were created, as the randomness of the tear and the relative combination of colors and slogans determine a lively poetics, aesthetics often out of touch with reality. Harmony is not contemplated, but Villeglé sought a society full of even contradictory messages in the unusual and amazement.
From the 2000s the Maestro abandoned the tears to move to a personal alphabet consisting of “socio-political signs”, which make up a variation of lapidary phrases, encrypted stories, sometimes difficult to decipher and pseudo anarchist slogans. An infinite declination of signs in a graphic revision of his work with gestures, which connect the torn of the posters with the very execution of this alphabet.
Jacques Villeglé has been, therefore, a contemporary archaeologist of the city who analyzed the language of the streets, giving testimony of an evolution in a never exhausted archive.

by Alain Chivilò