Chercher le Garçon

Chelsea MA Fine Art Course Director, Brian Chalkley is participating in Chercher le Garçon, a group exhibition by male artists, at MAC/VAL – Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne. The exhibition will be on from 7 March to 30 August 2015. Located in Vitry-sur-Seine, MAC/VAL is the first museum to be entirely dedicated to the French art scene of the 1950s.

Celebrating their 10th anniversary, this multidisciplinary, thematic exhibition is the first big event of MAC/VAL’s 2015 programme. Chercher le Garçon asks, what defines masculinity today? And how do we propose alternatives to the dominant male figure in a patriarchal society?

To answer these questions, curator Frank Lamy invited over one hundred male artists, exploring many lines of thought around the cultural patterns of male representation. Based on his series Female Trouble, which showed at Ancient and Modern in 2012, Chalkley was recommended to Lamy to contribute to the exhibition. The six watercolours that Chalkley is contributing to the exhibition question notions of masculinity and gender. According to the press release from Female Trouble, this was ‘Brian Chalkley’s first solo exhibition in over ten years in London with an installation of fourteen watercolour paintings of women portrayed in fine prints and strong makeup. Female Trouble takes its title from the eponymous film directed by John Waters (1974), featuring the actress Divine who simultaneously plays both the delinquent schoolgirl-prostitute “Dawn” and the man who makes her pregnant.

The paintings’ individual titles are gleaned from the kind of things celebrities say in magazine interviews, vacuous but heartfelt. Meanwhile a more refined sense of salaciousness is suggested by one portrait based upon a painting in Tate Britain of the Duchess of Argyll. During the 1960s, her husband found polaroids of his wife performing fellatio on a headless man.

Chalkley- Duchess of Argyle

‘VSex is the only thing I believe in, suddenly it all made sense some how.’ Watercolour by Brian Chalkley

Each painting employs an accomplished teenage-tracer’s draughtsmanship, suggesting a kind of levity inherent in the various moments of “trouble” they reference. Their cinematic “close up” style framing further emphasises the sense of identity being performed, and draws a parallels to Chalkley’s important video work exploring queer identity and subculture.’

Top image: ‘Some scripts have the woman coming back on all fours – but I’m like, “What man wants that woman”. The woman has got to maintain her integrity, she’s gotta maintain her balls.’ Watercolour by Brian Chalkley

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