Michel Delacroix at Axelle Fine Arts

March 29, 2011

Michel Delacroix turned 78 recently and his son has celebrated his birthday with a series of solo shows at Axelle Fine Art in New York, Boston and San Francisco. Delacroix is rightly celebrated for his naif views of Paris and its environs. As a child of World War II Paris, Delacroix remembers the city as being essentially without traffic, with few pedestrians, and light activity. His paintings though, feel as though from an earlier era. The cars, I suppose, could be from the 1930’s, but he includes are hansom cabs, horse-drawn carts and street vendors in aprons. Be especially sure to look for the spaniel with brown ears, Delacroix’s special touch in virtually every painting, and a lovely little fellow. He’s painting fantasies, for fantasies they indeed are, which revolve around the ordinary life of the city. No older person who lived through World War II will remember Paris as the charming place that Delacroix paints. But no matter. He gives us the Paris that we all dream about – the old, stone, low rise buildings with streets lined with shops, the neighborhood qualities that everyone dreams about wherever they live. Technically, Delacroix’s style and materials are classified as “primitive”. He paints in acrylic on board, achieving a very smooth finish. But these aren’t Grandma Moses-type primitives and Delacroix’s style isn’t frozen in time, even if his subject matter is. Delacroix’s paintings have great sophistication, and an excellent understanding of the life of a community. He focuses on the architecture of the city, using it to great effect, while interjecting the humorous quality which gives his paintings life. My sense is that most of Delacroix’s paintings are daytime images. So I was particularly taken with his night paintings. I believe these are new to his repertoire and they are excellent city scenes in the dead of night. I am particularly enamored of the night scenes in Paris’ parks, but these cityscapes are superb. None of the images in this article were included in the New York show but, even if you went today you wouldn’t see the paintings we did. They were flying off the walls. Delacroix came armed with replacements that the gallery was hanging even as paintings were being bought and taken. (This last is really unusual as galleries like to hold on to paintings until the show has concluded.) Delacroix is a prolific painter. His technique and media enables him to generate an enormous body of work. Lucky for us!

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