Sophie Goodwin views French Exit, a notable new show from London-based Flemish gallerist, Mattias Vendelmans, which examines the popular concept of privacy. 



Armand Doré, Nude, Smoking and Reclining, circa 1860-651 © Vendelmans, London.


French Exit, the new group show curated by Flemish collector Mattias Vendelmans is the third exhibition at his gallery on London's 6 Conduit Street. Exploring our individual quest for seclusion, the art dealer aims to question what motivates others in the pursuit of solitude. As Greta Garbo famously said, ‘I want to be let alone’. 

Mattias takes us on a journey through his selection of work, “I found the concept of French exits - or to leave a party without saying goodbye - just intriguing. It can feel incredibly satisfying to do so because, I think, in that very moment you reconnect with yourself as an individual and attach value to spending time with yourself. The works on view visualise what we can do with that time.”


Eugène Jansson, Male Nude, circa 1907-15 © Vendelmans, London.


Two private drawings by Sergei Eisenstein join one of Armand Doré's bohemian femme fatales. Leonid Berman's portrait of artist Alex Smadja shows a man drifting into an interior world. The full-length drawing of a male model by Eugene Jansson portrays the notion of undressing as a way to withdraw from society. 

James Ward and Emile Thysebaert explore the concept of escapism through dreaming, and dreams are realised in red chalk by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes in his intimate study of three bathers. Last is a plaster bust by John Lundqvist, illustrating a youth en route to the afterlife, perhaps the ultimate French exit.

Hailing from different countries and spanning over a century, the exhibited works illustrate that this individual desire is in fact a fundamental need. Whether aimed at indulging in laziness, pleasure or intellectual seclusion, the longing for time alone is at once highly personal and universal.

"Each work in the exhibition was made behind the closed doors of an artist’s studio or a bedroom,” says Mattias ‘However protective we are of our own privacy, we cannot help but be curious about the private moments of others. The exhibition lets us be a fly on the wall.”


French Exit, 7 May - 22 June |


John Lundqvist, Figure from the Resurrection Statue at Skogskyrkogården, circa 1928-41 © Vendelmans, London. 

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