Fabien Adèle’s new paintings in London

French artist Fabien Adèle is the subject of a remarkable exhibition, presented by art advisor Samuele Visentin at Number Three Spitalfields, an exceptional Georgian townhouse, right at the heart of buzzing East London.

The house was built in 1750 by Peter Lekeux, a French Huguenot silk merchant on the ruins of houses destroyed during the great fire of London. It remained a private home until the area began to decline in the 1800s.  A banana warehouse was later built in the gardens, and shortly after, the house fell into ruins again.  It was rescued by two artists in the 1980s. Banana trees continue to grow in the garden as a tribute to its past. The perfect location to stage exhibitions.

“I first encountered images of the Georgian townhouse at 3 Fournier Street on Instagram. I met Barra and James for a drink and proposed an exhibition. Little did I know that Barra had already intended to ask me to participate in an art-related project he was launching. We mutually and happily agreed on our reciprocal proposals. I’m working on an exhibition programme which will run using the house as an exhibition space.” Samuele Visentin said.

Imbued with a contemporary take on surrealism and reminiscent of Italian artist Giorgio De Chirico, Adèle’s paintings transport viewers in an imaginary vibrant world arranged around static figures, organic elements, and fictional landscapes.

Visentin discovered the artist on Instagram around spring 2019. A consequent Paris-studio visit quickly led to the exhibition presented in London today. “What I found striking about the works is his artistic consistency in portraying his figures and staging these surreal scenes. I also felt very drawn to the psychological side of his works and how they managed to tell a story that made me stop and stare and ask myself questions. And then gradually, I noticed his conscious use of colour to set the tone in each piece and the curation of details. I could see he knew what he was doing because the works were coherent.”  

Despite his young age, Adèle’s work brilliantly explore ideas of memory and physicality, constantly oscillating between dream-like settings and experiences of reality. In representations of objects, shapes that are very recognizable to many people and by arranging them in an organized way, I try to make the reading of the image easier. The image is often very figurative, but I like it when it gives several possibilities of interpretation and a certain interest in those common things that we no longer see, to give them a new meaning. Some people around me give me very explicit readings of what they see, others a vision completely different from mine during my creative process.  This has been my fuel for the whole body of work and most certainly for the next ones.” Fabien Adèle said.

Viewers will surely feel a sense of calm and appeasement while observing the fluid and almost Dalí-esque round figures on canvas slowly evolving on both very large and intimate formats. “In my latest works the figures are much more vivid, I use deep reds, the shadows become more golden because this palette makes sense with my personal learning of painting, my learning of humanity and myself.  I look at the world around me with a different look than a few years ago, my inner world also changes as I get older, and my work follows that. This is what I was looking for in the series of three paintings “What I have learnt From Us” (which is also the title of the show): a way to link my love for the creative path itself, and my vision and passion for the people I discover and love deeply.  For me it’s like a letter in three long paragraphs.” Adèle poetically continued.

His first approach to art-making took place at a very early age, when he learnt to draw from his mother. Studying at the Sorbonne in Paris later helped him find his voice. “As far back as I can remember I have always tried to create a narrative that could link my productions and give shape to a set of ideas and forms that I would stir in my head, sometimes for a very long time. I think that is what we try to do when we are children and hope inwardly that these things can live. In my work, I believe that this has never really changed, and I have always continued in this very intuitive direction.

Maybe because painting is a long process for me, I am also more and more interested in the embodiment of my ideas and emotions in the materiality of the painting and the palette I compose during the realization of it, even before I have a finished composition in mind.”

Is London an inspiration and how does the city impact his work and burgeoning career?This is the first time I exhibit in London, I made this series of paintings in Paris in a very small studio, in which I also live. I think that’s what gave shape to the whole production and it was a much more introspective and solitary process.”

As people around the world continue to live under lockdown conditions and apprehend a different way of experiencing life and humanity, Adèle’s paintings perfectly translate that now-common suspension of time: “I produced this body of work in a space that gave me little access to the outside world, before exhibiting these paintings in a context as beautiful as this one, in a city as vibrant as London. That’s why it makes it even more special for me, since it’s my first show.

The historical context of this Georgian house, its colours, details and life, its location and the changing light during the day give a completely different reading to the works depending on the time of the day. Even from my point of view the experience of looking at my own paintings is not the same, which is quite crazy. I am very grateful for this curation.”

What I Have Learnt From Us is running until 3rd October and is not to be missed.

Images:  Invitation, 2020 © Copyright of the artist and Samuele Visentin; Quartier Libre, 2020 © Copyright of the artist and Samuele Visentin; Collection © Copyright of the artist and Samuele Visentin; Quartier Libre, 2020