Jean-Michel – Out Run”
Curated by Vincent Vanden Bogaard
16th May – 19th July 2024
Solito – Galleria S2
NEA – Via Costantinopoli 53 – Piazza Bellini 59, Naples
Opening Thursday 16th May 2024 – 7 p.m.
With the presentation of the new logo, Solito Galleries’ programming continues its cycle of exhibitions, wanted and curated by Vincent Vanden Bogaard, adding Jean-Michel to Luigi Solito’s artistic proposal.
After Richard Wathen at Galleria S3, the second exhibition of 2024 is a solo show by the artistic duo Jean-Michel, who are exhibiting for the first time ever in Italy, presenting a project specifically meant for Galleria S2 in Piazza Bellini.
Following the example of Reena Spaulings (New York, 2005), Jean-Michel, the artistic duo formed by Sophie Varin (Saint-Doulchard, France, 1993) and Antoine Carbonne (Paris, France, 1987) is at the same time the hand, the artist, and the character. At the very beginning, Sophie and Antoine hid themselves under this “pseudonym”.
Today, they stand more and more their position and set Jean-Michel as an actor, a protagonist of their artworks. He is not a “fake painter” anymore but a genuine fiction character.
The duo conceptualizes their project through stories narrated and shaped in the manner of non-linear adventures. Their stories have the specificity of not being followed as serial episodes, but independent from one another.
For Jean-Michel, each picture appears as an illustration of an imaginary story, a part of the storyboard or a decorative element of the set. To make their exhibitions livelier and to give more materiality to the narration, they complete their compositions with an immersive aspect by creating a decor designed as the continuity of the story.
On the occasion of this solo exhibition in Italy, Jean-Michel proposes a frantic, contemplative, and nostalgic trip – connected to childhood or adolescence – all the way around the asphalted videogames car races recalled from the end of the ‘80s and the first half of the ‘90s. With the famous license Out Run as one of the main backgrounds, Sophie and Antoine make us travel through a road trip inspired by Southern European and Italian landscapes and geometric compositions from pixelated sequences from the golden age of retrogaming.
They invite the spectators to immerse themselves within synthetic landscapes, referring to the videogames, and dialogue with art history: like impressionists and fauvists, they simplify their language, and they use color as an element of perception which also refers to the art technical constraints of the time and to the lack of space on the table for the videogame’s cartridges.
The character, the main actor, becomes a first-person avatar. He evokes emotions and invites us to follow him through an itinerary, to travel the map of a fantasied universe.
Live at a brisk pace or stop quietly to admire the landscape: it is under a contrasted aspect, oscillating between speed and contemplation, that Sophie and Antoine take us aboard their Testarossa.
With an in-situ dimension, they reclaim the spaces of S2 of the Solito Galleries and create a project that goes hand in hand with the exhibition space architecture and the purposely created narrative. A fictive horizon line and a meditative landscape wherein the images, such as print screens, are coming to fit in.
Push on the button Start: Vroom Vroom, Skreeek, Player 1, Settings, Select… The journey can begin. (VVB)
Out Run can mean going faster than whoever tries to follow you. It makes us think of fleeing, running away from something but also from ourselves. Jean-Michel is an adventurous being but he can also lack courage sometimes. He is reckless and free, but doesn’t like confrontation. Looking to outrun who knows who, he might just be getting ahead of himself. Jean-Michel is most happy with his nose up in the air, hair in the wind, listening to his favorite playlist while the sun sets on the road. Yet there is a certain melancholy in this relaxed moment. The viewer can enjoy Jean-Michel’s journey and the landscapes he crosses. He or she is put in his skin through first person P.O.V. paintings. The aim of this trip is unclear, with only the horizon as a recurrent target. Out Run focuses more on a drifting journey than a conclusive destination.
Videogame-inspired art like Michel Majerus’s or Albert Oehlen’s is often an ode to the digital and the playful. We try to go back to analog, leaving the digital part but keeping the playfulness. To the question “do you think life is some sort of videogame?”, Jean-Michel answers yes. It is a caprice.
There seems to be a life of its own within the game but nothing is really activated until you – as a character – interact with anything. Everything is available. Every offline game is an ode to individuality, and Out Run is archetypal of that kind of videogames. You see other cars, rocks and obstacles, but really the map is a maze in which you need to know every turn in order to be efficient. The further you go, the more landscapes you come across. Coming from Venice Beach, you drive across a Mayan temple, all the way to the African savanna. In the end those visuals act as a distraction. As much as you want to enjoy them, you need to focus on the road.
With the exhibition Out Run, Jean-Michel wants to reenact these references and this state of mind. They autonomize them from the original game by creating links to a more classical history of painting, and in particular, to the quest of the hermit. Beyond videogame, Out Run is a reminiscence of a time when life was more linear and, while there were less crossroads and turning points, it was not simpler. (J-M)
Jean-Michel and curator Vincent Vanden Bogaard will both be present at the opening.
For the opening, Jean-Michel will create in collaboration with Hapto Studio an original opera-poster to be signed and given during the vernissage. This editorial module will be the first of a collectable set published by S-book, a series curated by iemme edizioni as part of the SOLITO project.
Jean-Michel is an artist duo composed of painters Sophie Varin and Antoine Carbonne. At first it was an androgynous alter ego to both artists, the product of its creators. Over time, they realized it was not a person but a space for free thinking, narratives and experimental work rather than an identity. Every exhibition they put up aims to tell a story – a tale even – driven by a motto that lies in the exhibition title. I Can Do It Anymore for instance was a show about adventure and renouncement. Be it in real life or in a digital one such as videogames. This collaborative body of work began in March 2021 during a residency called Casa Lu in Mexico. In these troubled times, Jean-Michel promotes the ideas of softness and fluid rela­tionships in a work field – the world of creation – that is often harsh to its actors, and mostly solitary.
Since that time Jean-Michel has had solo exhibitions in New York (Will I Dream? at IRL Gal­lery, 2021), Paris (Rage Quit at Myriam Chair Gallery, 2023), Brussels (I Can Do It Anymore at DBKA Paddock, 2023) and Knokke (Versus Water at Demain Belgium, 2023) and group exhibi­tions in Mexico City (Complices Disonantes at Casa Lu, 2021), Marseille (Si nous n’avions pas vu les etoiles at Buropolis, 2021), and Paris (Blur Me Tender at Galerie Romero Paprocki, 2022).
Jean-Michel lives and works in Brussels.
Sophie Varin (Saint-Doulchard, France, 1993) took her BA from the National Fine Art School of Paris, then studied at Hunter College School of Fine Art in New York and took her MFA at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. Her paintings and sculptures focus on our relation to reality, and how it often means a negotiation between what you would like to see, and what you would like to hide. Depicting seemingly banal situations, her works create ambiguous scenarios.
Antoine Carbonne (Paris, France, 1987) has graduated from the National Fine Art School of Paris (ENSBA). Initially interested in comics, he turned to painting where he examined different forms of narration in the single image. Taking the form of an adventure “of which you are the hero”, his first exhibitions represent projection spaces in which everyone will be free to create narrative tension. Large format paintings allow this almost bodily immersion in landscapes of pure colors. In 2023 he returns to the representation of bodies.
Vincent Vanden Bogaard (b. 1986), is an esteemed Belgian curator with a full-bodied and important resume and an independent consultant who has developed over time a strong knowledge and strategic vision for companies in the contemporary art market.
In 2024, Solito Galleries’ project continues its program in the three exhibition spaces, curated by Vincent Vanden Bogaard. In addition to Jean-Michel ‘s opening with “Out Run” at the historic Galleria S2 in Piazza Bellini 59, the program goes on at Galleria S1 in the former Lanificio complex in Piazza Enrico De Nicola 46 with Chelsea Culprit ‘s residency, preparing for her upcoming solo show in June, while at Galleria S3 at Palazzo Partanna in Piazza Dei Martiri 58, Richard Wathen’s “Unfolding the moon” is still on display.
The formula also includes the relaunch in the new guise of the Solito brand, a small holding company that manages the three physical spaces, a digital platform (awardee project of a ministerial call for Cultura Crea) and the iemme publishing project born in 2011. The project of re-branding and repositioning of the brand and the visual outline is curated by Milan-based Hapto Studio.
Jean-Michel – Out Run”
Curated by Vincent Vanden Bogaard
16th May – 19th July 2024
Opening Thursday 16th May 2024 – 7 p.m.
Solito – Galleria S2
NEA – Via Costantinopoli 53 – Piazza Bellini 59, Naples
Monday – Sunday > 10 a.m. – 12 a.m.
S1 – 081 304 19 19 | S2 – 081 45 13 58 | S3 – 081 304 19 19 |
Communication and press editor-in-chief: Marco Polito


Out Run
Vincent Vanden Bogaard
NEA - Via Costantinopoli 53 - Piazza Bellini 59, Naples
Solito Galleries
Roberto Della Noce