May26 - July 6, 2023
At the outset, here are two issues I find consistently present in the paintings of Jean-Marie Haessle: One, he is an indelible Classicist as much as Poussin or Ingres; and secondly, he carries a certain propensity for concealing his Classical posture in paintings that express often unexpected, yet exuberant varieties of color. In doing so, Haessle persuades some viewers that he is, in fact, the opposite of a Classicist, namely a die-hard Romantic. I have chosen to keep the capital letters in either case simply to suggest that what stands behind these two stylistic tendencies, which I believe vacillate through the paintings of Haessle, is essentially the history of Salon painting from the late eighteenth into the mid-nineteenth century. This was the fertile period of Salon de Paris decades before its decline became evident in the late nineteenth century soon after the suppression of the Commune in 1872. This decline was accompanied by the slanderous accusations of a socially insouciant painter, Gustave Courbet, who insisted that his art did not require the sanction of any institution to prove its worth. Thus, his pronounced individuality revealed the first tremolos of Modernism seeking liberation from an overtly ingested and decadent cultural hierarchy. Through the rejection of the latter, the heraldic and radical lineage of abstract painting came to emerge as the avant-garde of the twentieth century.