A few words about Jean-Marc Felzenszwalbe's pastels


Italian primitive paintings bear a golden background in the depicted scenes, designating the divinity that encompasses everything and presides over the human destiny as a sovereign judge. Over the centuries, this background has tended to back away, to shrink, to give place: birth and death, daily life gestures, relationships and human emotions have increasingly invested the space and its perspective. This culminated during the Renaissance, as prove the well-known works that still adorn our churches and museums.


Centuries later, Jean-Marc Felzenszwalbe's pastels tell a story that unfolds at first sight in the opposite direction: that of an artist whose work, initially influenced by the Russian constructivism, has progressively freed itself from the faces, from the shapes, and from the perspective. Jean-Marc Felzenszwalbe has gradually stripped his paintings and reduced the use of the line to its simplest expression: a limit, an edge, a separation.


Yet, the disappearance of the form does not really embody a return to the golden background of the Italian primitives. The colors in Felzenszwalbe's pastels offer challenging sensuality, intensity, and versatility. The encounter between the artistic gesture and a friable, fragile, subtle material creates impressions of a tessitura, of a moire, of an abyss. The pigments resonate according to the different lights of the day.


When I first saw these pastels, they reminded me of a very beautiful series by James Turrell, in 2015 at Houghton Hall in Norfolk. In his work, the American artist uses light and projects it onto surfaces to arouse an emotion, a sensation, a resonance in the viewer. Even in a monochrome work of art, the perception of light evolves, amplifies, contracts, has rhythm and volume. The technique and the effects may differ, but I found the same attempt in Jean-Marc Felzenszwalbe's pastels, thus placing this artist at the forefront. (...)


From the foreword to the catalog of the Jean-Marc FELZENSZWALBE exhibition “Pastels and Collages of the 1990s”, held in Rome in April 2018.



About Jean-Marc Felzenszwalbe


After having been awarded residencies in the Yaddo foundation (1991), the Wurlitzer foundation (1990) and the Albee foundation (1988), Jean-Marc Felzenszwalbe has participated to solo and group exhibitions in Europe and in North America. He was born in Paris in 1959, where he is currently living and working.




  • May 2019: Reflections, Galerie Xenithia-Nomade, Milan (solo show),
  • April 2018 : Pastels and Collages, Galerie Xenithia-Nomade, Rome, (solo show)
  • March 2008 : Sols; photographs, Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris, (solo show)
  • November 2004 : Murs et trottoirs: photographs at the Local, Paris, (solo show)
  • February 1991 : Salon Jeune Peinture, Grand Palais, Paris (group show)
  • September - October 1990 : Lost Circus Gallery, Amarillo, Texas, United States (solo show)
  • June 1990 : Ariel Gallery, New-York, United States (group show)
  • October 1988 : Jeunes Artistes Européens, Musée de Roubaix (group show)
  • February - March 1988 : Kunstblock gallery, Munich, Germany (solo show)


Residencies and awards:


  • 1993: Villa Montalvo foundation, Saratoga, California, United States
  • 1991: Yaddo foundation, Saratoga Springs, New York, United States
  • 1990: Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, U.S.A Golden Nail Award (Amarillo, Texas, United States)
  • 1989: Helene Wurlitzer foundation of New Mexico, United States
  • 1988: Hilaï foundation, Israeli Center for Fine Arts, Israel
  • 1987: Edward Albee foundation (the Barn), Montauk, Long Island, United States
  • 1986: Laurent-Vibert foundation, Lourmarin, France


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