Michael Bevilacqua

Beauty Behind the Madness

January 11 - March 8, 2018

Michael Bevilacqua

«Beauty Behind The Madness» is the second exhibition of Michael Bevilacqua at Galerie PACT.

This new body of work (painting and/or digital archive on canvas) is mainly inspired by the Versailles gardens build under Louis XIV’s reign, that the artist visited during his stay in Paris on the occasion of his first solo exhibition at Galerie PACT in 2016.

But music has also influenced this new body work, as it is always the case in Bevilacqua’s series. When he began to work on the exhibition, he heard songs from the album «Beauty Behind The Madness» by The Weeknd and this title made him think of the SunKing’s craziness and delusions of grandeur. The title of the exhibition is thus both a tribute to this main musical influence and a reference to the fertile craziness that led the king Louis XIV to offer such a unique heritage to the French culture and to the world.


It’s always something… something I see hear, listen to or stumble upon. It really started with me visiting Versailles with my older son a few years ago. I had never really walked through the gardens and their the seed was planted.

Leaving Paris after my last exhibition at PACT in 2016, Pierre-Arnaud took a picture of me wearing a white outfit with a hooded sweatshirt. I went back to NYC and found something interesting in the photo. I had the photo digitized and began painting over the top of the printed image….thus the birth of Physical Graffiti.

Why physical graffiti? Drawing, painting and mark making over the physical form.

And then the obsession and complete immersion of all things Versailles. A few months ago I returned to visit the gardens once again in depth. It rained both days but the grey days only enhanced various shades of green and only made the gold shine stronger and the white sculptures glow like ghosts.

Le Nôtre, the French landscape architect and principal Gardner used scale, geometry and line to develop the gardens. I love these concepts but when it comes to painting I don’t usually use these methods in a traditional manner. I love the way he placed sculpture in the many groves and fountains. An element of surprise and incredible beauty.

So the figure becomes the monument within a landscape within the canvas. Remnants of fabric designs, stained surfaces, words abstractions. It’s not copy exact things in And out of Versailles but to try and touch upon the sheer beauty and opulence of it all. A painting should evoke some sort of emotional response and in the same time the viewer should see something new to experience. When I think of Versailles it is green green green and a splash of gold. King Louis XIV left France and the world something quite profound and it grows.

So many books were perused and documentaries watched. Even a ridiculous historical fictio n movie “A Little Chaos” in which Le Notre had some mad love affair with a woman who was the genius behind some of the gardens greatest inventions like the outdoor ballroom waterfalls. Amusing but it did give you an idea of the madness that went into creating all things Versailles. It go mention the deaths of workers, bankruptcy and insane fighting!!! But here I digress!

The real work did not start in the studio until the music came. The soundtrack was not there until…. Oddly enough I heard a song by «The Weeknd» band. His songs are about sex, love, money or lack of and trials and tribulations of life. His symbol for his music of all things is a wonderful sentiment for Versailles with all the sex, affairs and rampant naughty behavior. 

The Weeknd mixes classical, hip hop and sweet vocals all jumbled up and laced out. I think Louis XIV would have listened to him.  Music was very important to Louis and the ballet was born at Versailles “Ballet Royal de Nuit” saw the debut of “The SunKing” coming out at the end of the ballet in a gold sun costume.

My intention is never to copy something but to allow the viewer to “Hear the painting and see the music”.

I know trend is to make political work but my response to that is to embrace beauty. King Louis did. The same. He kept his vision for decades and gave us one of the most incredible wonders of the world. Despite people of France complaining wondering what that mad sun king was up to.

From «Spies in the Wire»* to «Beauty Behind the Madness» [Title of Michael Bevilacqua’s personal exhibition at PACT in 2016] …

“So we beat on, boats against the current , borne back ceaselessly into the past»

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925