Jef Geys at Air de Paris

Artist: Jef Geys

Exhibition title: Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx

Curated by: Sylvie Boulanger and Francis Mary

Venue: Air de Paris, Paris, France

Date: January 20 – March 17, 2018

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris

During the summer of 1969 Belgian artist Jef Geys decided to follow the Tour de France. A passionate lover of cycling, like so many of his compatriots, Geys photographed the stages of what was to be the first victory for Eddy Merckx. The result was a series of images mingling the sociological, the geographic and the artistic, and focusing as much on the fans and the curious as on the competitors. The logos and advertisements spotted at the stopover points make up the event’s symbolic literature, while the points of view are those of the true enthusiast, a voyeur whose dedication to a seldom satisfied repetition with no aesthetic purpose is the embodiment of a pure critical stance.

The 67 photographs are in black and white. Now on show almost fifty years after being taken, they might be seen as merely documentary or nostalgic, were it not for the caustic edge Jef Geys highlights with his specially designed «bolted» frames. Another feature of the exhibition is a montage of two pages from the Belgian press of July 1969, giving equal exposure to man’s first step on the moon and Eddy Merckx’s first victory.

This exhibition first opened at the CNEAI art centre in Chatou in 2016, then travelled to the CAPAC museum of contemporary art in Bordeaux, and in 2017 to the Bains-Douches art centre in Alençon, the Passages Centre for Contemporary Art in Troyes and the IAC Institute for Contemporary Art in Villeurbanne, before settling in at Air de Paris. A publication edited by cneai and keymouse gathers the 67 photographs that make up the contact sheet n°234 of «Jef Geys: Al de zwart-wit fotos’s tot 1998»

Born in 1934 in Leopoldsburg, Belgium. Jef Geys worked in Balen in Kempen all his life. He represented Belgium at the 53rd Venice Biennale with his «Quadra Medicinale» installation and took part in dOCUMENTA XI in Kassel. His work is in collections that include M UKHA, Middelheim Museum, MUDAM, IAC and Stedelijk Museum, as well as numerous private collections.
Monday, February 12th, the day before Mardi Gras, Jef Geys left us and we are sad.

We are sad but we are happy to have known him and proud to present his work since 2013. With his customary intensity he has created new works for the exhibition «Le Destin des Châteaux Croisés» that we are currently presenting at Château Shatto in Los Angeles; he has also closely followed the preparation of two important exhibitions, respectively at Yale Union, Portland (cur. Nicolas Tammens, from 14 April 2018) and at MAC’s – Grand Hornu in Belgium (cur. Francis Mary, from April 29, 2018).

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015, exhibition view, Air de Paris

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015, exhibition view, Air de Paris

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015, exhibition view, Air de Paris

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015, exhibition view, Air de Paris

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015, exhibition view, Air de Paris

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015, exhibition view, Air de Paris

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015, exhibition view, Air de Paris

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015, exhibition view, Air de Paris

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015, exhibition view, Air de Paris

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015, exhibition view, Air de Paris

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015

Jef Geys, Le Tour de France 1969 d’Eddy Merckx, 1969-2015

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