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'Atypical' is the right word to qualify the route of Jean-Yves Staffe. He’s almost an adult at the outbreak of May ’68. And this mischievous young man becomes a lover of art. Of ceramics at first, and it’s not a wonder for him, who’s living in Hainaut, near the border, a few kilometres away from Sars-Poteries in France. Teacher, in charge of institutional communication, gatronomical reporter, he always gives proof of perfect taste and of interest for art. In his municipality of Grandrieu, he contributes to the founding of a cultural settlement. But there are principally meetings, which will shape his art, and the different technical applications he will use during that other career, not in the professional context. But he doesn’t practise it as an amateur.

Meeting with Francis Dusépulchre, disciple of Jo Delahaut for painting, with paintings of Soulages, with the accumulative sculpture of Arman, of which he organizes a rétrospective exhibition in the royal museum of Mariemont. Meeting with Maurice Wyckaert, who also guides him to abstraction, with Udo Zembok, specialist of plastic and glass art, who initiates him into the art of glass, with other artisans-ceramists.

And don’t forget one of his first loves : photography. He always put it into practice during his now finished professional live and now he can spend ail the time he wants for his new adventure : art in its different forms.

The art of Jean-Yves Staffe is multiform, and at the same time coherent and constant : we plunge, not into the sea, but from the sky. He’s bom in Grandrieu, at the border, and limits have significance for him : it’s a patchwork with the earth from the sky, that you’ll find in his last paintings, with as base the network of his first ceramics or with délimitation of more abstract other one.

For the ancient Marxist-Leninist he’s, the limpidity of the point of view about the limits, which the altitude makes possible, has more charm than the dissolution, insofar as you draw nearer to the ground level ... and consequently to the hard reality. His last paintings remind us of the landscapes from the sky, but also are colored patchworks with saturated, distinct, sometimes veiled warm colours, where shadows as plantoms rise like by Eugène Leroy : like aerial archeology, where remains of the past appear from and in a landscape.


In his glass sculpture, in his colored totems or in the jewellery, the same colour marks corne and streak transparency, to stamp a reality, that wouldn’t be so clear.


Sometimes, his abstract compositions, adorned mosaic, become a graduated monochrome whole, always in a clearly delimited structure, for him a sériés of prospecting territories - the titles -.


The impression of controlled chaos appears again in his photographies : for ever fixed high oceanic waves, broken natures of dead sea, that the frame structures wondefully. It’s a fact that they do put us in mind of the oil paintings of Thierry De Cordier. But Jean-Yves Staffe is rather a eye-painter...


Bernard Roisin


In my opinion, Jean-Yves Staffe is a curious someone! In both meanings of the term... .

The world interpellates him: he doesn’t stop asking questions about himself, the world and, with his questioning look, he comes near. In a first time! But not only. From his earliest years, he has been watching, reading, writing, … and creating. With him, photography is getting married with writing; without divorce, each one is taking its independent course; writing will bring him to his journalistic and critical professional career, thanks to his successful sense for sharing; when photography reveals the art, which is living in “his heart of hearts”, he’ll construct this art with the time thanks to the approach and the learning of different technics. His human contact, his practical sense for technics and materials – first of all, the primary, opaque earth – will open other sky-lines, that we can admire, and will offer the possibility to approach other elements, other materials. For example, pure glass, pure transparency. Pure glass, with fine coloured marks, becomes totem ... . And the vertical or horizontal position in the space – it depends on the view-point – gives another explanation: by transparency, lines and colours, a few totems will inscribe in the open interval a mysterious network, that we’ll examine closely. Or farther? An inhabited network – who knows? Just imagine!


Bernard Roisin, reporter, writes: “Jean-Yves Staffe is rather an eye-painter ...”. We wholly agree with this amusing and comparative vision, which inevitably makes an allusion to the importance of looking! For many years, already, Jean-Yves has made use of painting to translate his visual experiences and researches. Directly he has invited us to penetrate into a world with weaving and crossways, where secret shadows are crossing the weaving as a distant, fleeting presence. We have to catch it, when the aura of the past suddenly is coming back.

The depth or strength of the colour and the density of the lines form on the painting very spacious discovery networks. On paper, on the other hand, the work does look like a glass window thanks to the contrasted relation between colour and luminosity and so the eye is trying to leave its cavity.

The exhibition of Jean-Yves Staffe with the French title “Points de vue en regards” (“View-points opposite each other”) may be considered as “a première” on the way the artist goes, but don’t forget, that he has kept company with a lot of famous masters and shown his works with them. A few names: Delahaut, Dusépulchre, Alechinsky, Bram Bogart, Folon, Slabbinck, Arman, ... And in the glass sphere: Louis Leloup, Antoine and Etienne Leperlier, Barbara Nanning, ... for example.


Jean-Yves didn’t tell me all about it, but his friends are talkative people!

Claude Thoirain


Translation ​© Marc Lecocq.


Jean-Yves Staffe presents paintings of his series "Territory" , "Zone" ,  "Sector" and "Region" , as well as peices made with amalgamated glass.

His different series are invitations to go in an universe with weavins and crossbreedings, where secret shadows go across the weaving as a distant, fugitive presence. And it has to be captivated, precisely there where the aura of the past surfaces again suddenly. The whole exhibition is infiltrated by sculptures-totems with glass, to render homage to the Hopis, an Amerindian people.

"The deph or strenght of the colour and the density of the lines form on the painting very spacious discovery networks. On paper, on the other hand, the work looks like a glass window thanks to the contrasted relation between colour and luminosity and so the eye is trying to leave its cavity." (Claude Thoirain)

Thanks to Jean-Yves Staffe, we are travelling into zones and territories. The movement of the artist becomes slower, more structured – when we use an analytical language. With his gradations of outside spaces, and above all thanks to his paintings on paper, that look like glass windows and glass structures, he offers each penetrating stare the opportunity to go here and there into the representation of our structured surroundings.

Each visitor, as a patient "starer", has to take time to explore the notions of consistence, substance, transparency, intersection, proximity, spreading…

José Hubert.

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