Kristian Desailly is an abstract painter with broad shoulders and a mop-like coiffure drawn back into a ponytail, who has lived since 2004 in Gordes on a mountaintop amidst green oaks and ancient bories where during the warm months he mounts large canvases on an outdoor stone surface to paint in plein air.
Kristian diverges from pure abstraction by evoking playful and inventive gestures and images, which appear as figurative motifs such as birds, fish, animals, urban landscapes, stars, sun or the moon, summoning up the styles of Chagall and Kandinsky.
It was at the age of fifteen that Kristian discovered his artistic calling when he was swept into rapture by the work of Paul Klee. The childlike drawings and primitive art forms of Klee Joan Miro would inspire artists to establish CoBrA. These artists – Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille, Christian Dotremont, Asger Jorn, and Joseph Noiret – drew up a manifesto in 1948 for the “Mouvement CoBrA”, the name derived from their home cities of Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam, heralding complete freedom of color and form. Although disbanded in 1951, CoBrA influenced the work of abstract expressionists in the decades of the 50’s and 60’s as well as the adolescent Kristian.
After studying at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Kristian served for fifteen years as an assistant to Victor Vasarely, a master of geometric abstraction, and then worked for over a decade with Jean Miotte, a lyrical abstract painter based in the Var.
Last Saturday evening, Kristian descended from his serene refuge to the Galerie Pascal Lainé in Ménerbes to greet patrons at a vernissage for an exhibit of his recent works of acrylic and watercolor on canvas or paper, embellished with drawings in charcoal and pastel.
On Saturday, June 7, at 7:00 p.m., Francoise Buteau will speak on the long harmonious collaboration between the writer Pierre Jourde and Kristian Desailly. In French.
A personal reflection: PVB first met Kristian Desailly, then based in Paris, at a vernissage for Jean Miotte in the French countryside in 1994, and only last year, nineteen years later, eyes peering over a glass of rosé at a vernissage in Ménerbes, did the silhouette of Kristian reappear “comme par enchantment.”
Exhibit: Kristian Desailly, Recent Works, May 24 to June 18
Hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.