Jean-Luc Verna

His work has the particularity of connecting through diverse references the history of art with that of underground rock music; in particular he takes up and displaces elements of intellectual and popular culture and draws a parallel history of contemporary mythologies. His muse Siouxsie Sioux changed his life the moment he saw her for the first time on one of Alain Maneval’s shows when he was still an adolescent. A large part of his works, and in particular his drawings — executed on a very large variety of recovered old papers, and sometimes assembled in the form of polyptychs—, thus make reference to this fascination which has become source of inspiration. Jean-Luc Verna’s drawings are a hybrid of crossbred mythologies, cultures, and specific subcultures. Classically grounded in renaissance technique and form, his works are populated by centaurs, demons, and numerous other creatures. His is an aesthetic richly informed by a kind of Gothic mysticism, pop- culture, gender bending and cross-dressing, as well as rock idolatry.

His body is the backbone of his singular oeuvre, which addresses the phenomena of alteration (tattooing, piercing, makeup) and renders contemporary issues of representation and reproduction. In his photographs, his body strikes poses, embodying simultaneously figures from classical art history and rock culture. On stage, the artist transforms into rock star with his group I Apologize, and into a dancer in the choreographies of Gisèle Vienne. He multiplies these transformations, going so far as to perform all the roles in a film shot by Brice Dellsperger. In this way he breaks down categories and mixes genres. Not without humor, he has courted confusion by giving the same title to all his personal exhibitions since 1995: “Are you not slightly overly made-up?” – “No.”

Art Brussels
April 20, 2023