December 14, 2019 - February 15, 2020
Jim Peiffer was born on 11 August 1987. In 2014, he graduated from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels La Cambre Bruxelles, specialising in drawing. Jim Peiffer lives and works in Luxembourg.
Jim Peiffer is not content merely to repeat his favourite motifs. Bosch, the Surrealists, artists of the Basquiat movement, structured architecture, almost De Chirico-like landscapes; he is well able to turn his back on them. And likewise he knows how to venture outside the bounds of the felicitous precision of his sometimes lively and always highly detailed drawing. The proof lies in these three works shown here at Art2Cure. The return of the same, he knows, only exorcises time, but does not always meet expectations. Confronting “depiction”, a subject, the motif as we mentioned above, offers other satisfactions.
The sensations, the feelings experienced awaken an expressiveness that is only relevant if it is formulated in a coherent formal configuration adjusted to a tradition that is necessarily revised at the same time as being stimulated. The first impulse is to think of Van Gogh, whom Jim Peiffer seems to resemble in his manner of drawing: “I have tried to express the terrible passions of humanity by means of red and green.” But, Jim Peiffer knows that like a poet he must seek his rhyme. That is why he brings colour to its greatest intensity by adding grainy pastel to his acrylic. And he spreads the colour rapidly giving the Landscape presented at Art2Cure this vision of what, when we drive along, the windscreen seems to project on us and which we have to control. Vlaminck, after Fauvism, was skilled in working such effects. But he did not have the sense of what the artists of the Tuscan Quattrocento called commensurazione, an untranslatable term, but one that suggests the sense of proportionality, of hierarchy, and of placement of that which is portrayed in the work, of all that is harmoniously ordered, with its space and appeal – with the expressiveness, let us say – of colour. In this work, we may note how, through the schematic layout of the house, the speed of perception is accelerated via the edges of the road and the white stripes in the middle of the road. As far as the frontier of a kind of irrepressible anxiety, accentuated by the flashes of orange illuminating trees passing by like a memory of those spring flowers painted by Klimt, all suddenly transported into the elusive space of Munch. In Personnage assis (Seated figure) and Nu (Nude) with the invisible or cropped head, a motif typical of the artist’s repertoire, we find the decisive linearity of contours that are the guarantee of a freedom, albeit controlled. Because the apparent spontaneity is the result of days and days spent tied to the drawing board. Expressive freedom is guaranteed, as it were, by the outline that constrains it. In short, as our freedom is by democratic law. This too is commensurazione.
Two further remarks. Jim Peiffer’s art does not emerge from nothing, but from a kind of familiarity with art and its history that leads me to see, in the Nu, a kind of resumption of a portrait of Yvette d'Auguste Chabaud, tempted by the colour of Lindner and his maniac propensity to “robotise” his nudes in a geometry reminiscent of some flipper figures. I know, this reference is anachronistic: Chabaud could not guess at Lindner. But Jim Peiffer can. Without even knowing it? The Zeitgeist? Let’s be serious, but there is nevertheless some truth in that! As for the Personnage assis, his presence is squarely highlighted by the great red background field, the materiality of which is sensed by the observer in a tactile manner. This is a feature we also experience with the blue of Yves Klein’s monochromes, although leading beyond the surface to the immateriality of the infinite. But contrary to what happens in Klein, it is the limits of the coloured field here that is highlighted by the red by holding it in a tension that is felicitously born of the refined commensurazione. Let us go back to the Personnage assis! With its lowered head, one thinks of Baselitz: a Baselitz concentrated into a format that offers we who look at this work a monumentality that only Jim Peiffer manages to make real and “veritable”. Are we thus moving away from a contemporaneity that will mark our era? I do not believe that. The pain and the burden of being in the world are much better expressed by works that are seemingly set back from the mainstream. Because they defy any compromises! Today’s fashionable compassionate commiseration favours images that are strangely similar to the genre “scenes” of academic art that cannot be saved by installations without benches or with benches, by smoke without fires and vapours without fog.
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