Jean Bosphore: Slumber Party | Sobering

Jean Bosphore likes to paint flesh and flowers, of a particular sort. His works are small: you could cover most of the paintings in this show with a piece of A4 paper. They’re all on pieces of wood with bevelled edges, the hard surface rendering his acrylic paints with almost brutal clarity.

Everything seems to be encased in plastic. The flowers depicted in the paintings have screw-in parts and instruction manuals. The cool boys that pose with these flowers are almost as smooth and shiny. The paint has a flat, plasticky sheen. Each smooth-cornered piece of wood is even encased in a plastic pipe frame which Bosphore made himself.

Jean Bosphore - ‘Gros Dur no. 2’ (2023) Gros Dur no. 2 (2023)

The show notes compare the clarity of Bosphore’s line and the flat, colourful spaces with David Hockney and the Russian constructivists. I’d one-up them in pretentiousness and add a comparison of my own: to Northern Renaissance altarpieces, in their clarity and sharp colours (thanks to the wood backing), but also in their deliberately artificial beauty. These young men with their flowers aren’t meant to look real, any more than a flat-faced van Eyck madonna was.

It doesn’t mean that Bosphore’s frictionless fantasies lack emotional impact. Party Ending is a sequel to Gros Dur no. 2, pictured above. The boy’s shorts are bunched and puckered on the floor. A note has appeared on the black table:

Dear, Thank you. It was great. Let’s make another date real soon, in the afternoon,

The paper it was written on is carefully encased in a clear plastic file. The flowers are thrown out of the vase, plastic parts scattered on the floor. Perhaps it wasn’t that “great” after all, and won’t be repeated.

Party Ending had sold. It had resonated with some viewer with a few thousand euro to spare, then, despite the layers of plastic that mediated these emotions, artist to buyer. It touched me too, somehow.

Jean Bosphore: Slumber Party is at Sobering (Paris). 15 April - 10 May 2023