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Elvire Jan (1904 1996)


Elvire  Jan - Sans titre
Elvire  Jan - Sans titre 1974

Document sans nom

The life of Elvire Jan, born in Bulgaria in 1904 to a large Armenian family is of a cosmopolitanism that makes you dream and partly explains the eclecticism of her artistic choices. In addition to her native language, she spoke a breathtaking number of languages: French, Turkish, English, German and Italian. While travelling, she met the psychoanalysts Jung and Alfred Adler in Vienna before returning to Bulgaria where she was taught by Tzeno Todoroff, professor at the Academy of Arts. In New York, she became a pupil of the Cubist painter Max Weber at the Art Students League. Then in Paris, she entered the Académie Julian, and became friendly with Jean Bazaine while attending classes in printmaking at the Atelier 17 of Stanley William Hayter. Her artistic tastes led her to befriend the pupils of Roger Bissière: Jean Bertholle, Jean Le Moal, Alfred Manessier, and Gustave Singier. Through contact with them, she developed a synthesis between Orphism and Cubism while exalting her feeling for volume and masses and her passion for pure colour. It is alongside these painters that she confirmed the artistic aspirations that had pushed her from the start to follow in the wake of Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard. The paintings shown illustrate wonderfully Bazaine’s words when he wrote that in Elvire Jan’s art, “light flows from the source, propagates in joyful waves or in dramatic swirls with all the force and liberty of original water.” The titles of her paintings often refer to nature: Printemps, Rameaux, Mai...her painting’s evolution was marked by her desire to convert to the Roman Catholic Church, after being born into the Gregorian Church. This may be the source of her perpetual interest in the art of stained glass, which she practiced for numerous religious and secular sites. Her creativity turned towards a form of impressionistic non-figuration and it is in hills, trees, and nature that she found inspiration: “it is before our eyes that the world is being made – we are spectators of the Genesis” wrote Bazaine. The similarity of her themes was accompanied by a continually renewed inventiveness: clouds, valleys, rivers, rocks are depicted using elementary colours that blossom magnificently in her stained glass windows. Her works transfigure the real with light, colour, the arrangement of forms, the delicacy of her artistic material. They provoke a visual enchantment that encourages calm meditation and illustrates Bissière’s words, when he wrote that the picture is “a coloured image to which everyone can attach their own dreams”. This rich colour, this vibrant luminosity organized in broad and supple linear structures like fiery sparks, radiate throughout the gallery space.


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