Even though La Patinoire Royale de Bruxelles already presented works by Jean Milo in the 2019 exhibition Painting in Belgium – Abstraction in Times of Peace (1945-1975), today's exhibition is of a totally different scale and shows the importance of a Work that could no longer be admired since the Brussels Museum of Fine Arts' 1986 retrospective.
Painting without representing, thus looking for the pictorial language that would tell about essence rather than existence : this is the quest Milo (1906–1993) gave himself through his entire painting career. In his own words 'paint spring, not represent it'.
Besides the early realisation he would have to conquer the tools of his trade, Milo was granted a rare quality: humility. As a matter of fact, he never feared to get impregnated by the different art movement that glittered around him all along that XXth century, settling in for some time but never for ever. The varied works "La Patinoire Royale – Valerie Bach Gallery" hosts testify of the many sources that were to soak into his art.
In 1925 he joined the Etichove Group and met the painters Ramah, Edgard Tytgat, the sculptor Charles Leplae, Carol Deutsch... and was exhibited in Brussels for the first time. Then he was hired by one of the most vivid outposts of avant-garde, Brussels' Le Centaure gallery, as assistant manager. There he discovered works by Van Dongen, Dufy, Braque, Chagall, Vlaminck, Modigliani, Kandinsky and soon the first surrealists Magritte, Ernst...
1934 saw his first recognition on a national level with an exhibition at Brussels' Palace of Fine Arts. At the end of 1945 he joined the group Jeune Peinture Belge and had shows in The Hague, Stockholm or Zurich. Meanwhile, he discovered his new home in Rixensart, and its garden in which shimmered, through what nature made visible, an invisible he was then ready to transpose onto the canvas.
This was the time he painted _Printemps Bleu (Blue Spring)–_1949, the very first abstract painting ever to make its way to Brussels' Museum of Fine Arts (in 1950). The work is fiercely non – figurative and boils with a multitude of signs and graphic inventions.
In 1953, after a trip to Congo, the artist invented a new language to express his African experience. On the canvas, shapes simplified, became masses that rhythmically condensed into readable modules, whereas the paste got richer, creamier and new materials came into play : cardboard, grain, sandpaper...
Enriched by his abstract experience, Jean Milo turned in the 60s toward what André Jocou, his biographer, would call 'abstract impressionism' and delivered canvasses filled with musicality, sprinkled with gleaming spots, colourful arabesques and playful curves.
In the course of the 70s and 80s, he reinvented himself over and over and created, for instance, the 'Seagulls' and 'Royal Greenhouse' cycles. In the latter he would spend long hours trying to catch the luminous connections between the curves of architecture and exotic plants. Paintings that proved once more Jean Milo was definitely the painter of spring, the artist of eternal youth.
Press release courtesy La Patinoire Royale – galerie Valérie Bach.