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Jean-Luc Mylayne

September 11 – October 18, 2008
515 West 24th Street
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Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by artist Jean-Luc Mylayne. Blurring the boundary between artist and subject, Mylayne’s large format color photographs belie the patience and singular focus of his explorations into art.

This powerful new body of work represents the artist’s first series of photographs made in America.  Shot during a two year Lannan Foundation residency in Bernal, New Mexico, and Fort Davis, Texas, here Mylayne continues his ongoing project of photographing birds in their natural environs.  As opposed to seeking out the most exotic specimens of winged life, he rather pursues harmony between the commonplace and the extraordinary and a balance between the landscape and the birds that call it home. Each unique photograph condenses the patience of the artist, who will often wait for weeks or months to build a trusting relationship with his avian subjects. Yet, it is not simply the case of snapping the shutter in the decisive moment; rather, Mylayne uses a series of lenses unique to his practice that reconfigure the landscape, appearing simultaneously in focus or blurred, to mimic neither spatial perspective nor the artist’s point of view, but the naked eye itself.

Whether hidden within bushes, blurred in motion, or seeming to perch on the edge of the lens itself, the birds that Mylayne photographs appear to relate equally to their context as well as their role in front of the camera. As the artist says: “The bird didn’t just consent to a picture. He posed, allowing me to take this portrait. It took two years to achieve this result. And it isn’t just about understanding the life of birds. Above all, it is an exploration, a way to try and to know ourselves, what we do and why we do it, through the bird.” Mylayne is no naturalist, a bird-watcher driven to examine the scientific traits of a species; instead, his nomadic project is one of personal understanding and the relationships that are essential, yet not exclusive to, humanity.

Jean-Luc Mylayne was born in 1946 and lives in France. One-person exhibitions include the Photographers' Gallery, London; the ARC/Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; the Musée d'Art Moderne, St. Etienne; the Bibliotèque Nationale, Paris; and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Calais. This past year an exhibition of his work organized by the Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston traveled to the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland; the exhibition will travel on to the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Parish Art Museum in Southampton, New York.  Mylayne has been the recipient of a Lannan Foundation Grant. In 2007 Twin Palms published a comprehensive monograph spanning his more-than-thirty year career.