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Born August 9, 1913  Paris, France

Listed Davenpor’s Art Refernce Guide and Benezit Encyclopedia of Artists

Painter of Genre, Portraits, History, Compositions, Abstraction and Surrealism.

            Jean Chape was introduced very early into the art world decorating leather and creating ornamental designs for his father, a costume designer for the theater, Paris Opera, the Châtelet, and actress Sarah Bernardt.  He entered L’Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Paris, but did not finish, deciding to paint and design on his own.

                He joined the Salon des Artistes Francais in 1934, the Salon de Tuileries in 1936, and the Salon d’Automne in 1938.  He exhibited at an important show at the Tuileries in 1938 and gained the attention of critics and prominent artists alike.

                Joining the Army of France in 1939, he participated in the defese of Angers and produced a notebook of plein air drawings of the front.  Taken captive in 1940, he still managed to smuggle out a canvas of his captivity to the Salon d’Autome, but it was refused because of its controversial nature.  Despite two unsuccessful escape attempts, he was finally released in 1945 and returned to Paris.

                Renewing his artistic fervor, he exhibited at the Tuileries in 1946, the Salon Artistes Libérés, and in 1947 at the Societaire aux Indépendants.  In 1948 he held an exposition at the Galerie Saint-Placide.  Three canvases were acquired by the State.

                An “Anti-Romantique”, he speaks of his painting:

“The local form does not exist; the color is always going to intensify, foretelling a frontier

charged with absolute rythmes of synthesis, changing when necessary to

control the forces of color – often opposing them.”

“The Torment of Jean Chape”

[Adapted from Le Figaro 5/16/79 Des Art’s]

                The images of war still tormented Jean Chape – dead twisted bodies, butchered trunks, chopped arms – cascades of ghosts.  These canvases of Chape have for their origins the nightmares of our time.  Dreadful clamour – funereal colors.  And then, by an extraordinary spell, there is silence.  What Silence!  A couple Lying together, their shadow a round movement, gnarled, piled together, in slow motion, rising, sliding, arousing….

                The art of Chape is not only strong, it evokes the invisible truths of the dark aspects of life, the abnormal and the horrible – towards the unfathomable abyss of the merciless.  The artist does not spare us the torment, the degradation, the rags of the human condition.  Composition, design and color - all are sacrificed or subordinated to the expression, whose impact carries the maximum intensity.

                The color nevertheless plays an essential role.  It is not a borrowed coat.  It is the essence of his design, the flesh of his figures.

                An instinctive painter of violence – because we are in a universe of violence – there is an appeal of violence against violence that is a risk to the perpetrator.   Chape holds that there is a better way to put an end to it.

                Jean Chape tries in this way to find a mode of human expression that encourages the basis of a new humanism – more magnetic, more radiant.

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