In his poignant and witty paintings, drawings, sculptures, and performances, Jay Batlle explores “the good life”—success, fortune, and an abundance of sensual pleasures—and the gulf that exists between this idealized life and the reality of our own. As he explains: “When I first starting making art my work needed a pathos, a form of urgency, a problem even if this was idealistic, or romantic.” For Batlle, this initial source was humanity’s futile aspirations for a life that we ultimately cannot attain, which he expressed in his work through recurrent images of women, elegant soirees, luxury brands, booze, food, and money. In his Restaurant Stationery Series 2003-2018 for example, he enlarged pieces of stationery from restaurants and hotels filling them with humorous, doodle-like images of limply sexualized cocktail glasses, thoroughbred dogs, bubble baths, and nudes. Or in Apres le Vernissage a HD video where Batlle poured 10,000 dollars worth of fine wine down the drain to Brahm’s Intermezzo opus 117 No.1. “Art like an overpriced meal is to be enjoyed with the knowledge of its non-value or necessity”1
Batlle’s work manipulates signifiers of elite taste to create an absurd social commentary on the human condition in our late, late Capitalist society. Offering both a critique of comestible-related decadence and a celebration of the preparation and consumption of food across various cultures. Honing in on the interchangeability of wealth and power, while blurring the boundaries between the two as it relates to indulgence and excess. “Gourmet food might not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing classic works of art, but practicing chef and artist Jay Batlle is quick to draw the connection between the two. Throughout his colorful, occasionally satirical critiques of the hedonistic fine dining culture, Batlle depicts the luxurious atmosphere cultivated by high-class restaurants and hotels.”2
“Batlle was raised in Southern California, and studied under Baldessari at UCLA; he was the first graduate student ever expelled from the prestigious De Ateliers 63 in Amsterdam. Now based in Brooklyn, Batlle cuts an unusual figure in the art world: He’s less likely to be found contemplating his private world of neuroses than drinking a glass of Burgundy in a seersucker suit. Who said artists can’t enjoy the good life? 3
Batlle’s studio is based in Brooklyn, New York. Batlle was educated at U.C.L.A where he won the prestigious Leveson Scholarship from the faculty. He was an artist in residence at De Ateliers 63 Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Mana Contemporary, Jersey City. Batlle’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions including: The MoMA PS1, Metro Pictures, Migeul Abreu Gallery, Esso Gallery, Casey Kaplan, Nyehaus, Andrew Roth, Paul Kasmin, Feigen Contemporary, Thomas Erben, the Chelsea Museum, The National Academy Museum, Exit Art, The Dorsky Gallery, and The Whitney Museum, all in New York City. As well as: The Glass House Museum at Mana and Gary Lichtenstein Editions, New Jersey; Roberts & Tilton Gallery, Blum & Poe Gallery, both in Los Angeles, CA; The National Museum of Fine Arts, Santiago de Chile, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo sin Muros – Concepción, both in Chile; Galeria Impakto, Lima, Perù; The Artothek Museum, Cologne, The Ausstellungshalle Zeitgenössische Kunst in Münster, The Abteiberg Museum, Mönchengladbach all in Germany, The Museum of Liverpool, and at The World Museum, Liverpool, both in the United Kingdom; Soho House Istanbul, Turkey; Atelier’s 63, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Galerie Frank, Paris, France; Roza Azora Gallery, Moscow, Russia; Clages Gallery, Cologne, Germany; Galleria 1000eventi, Milan, and Villa Mensa, Turin, both in Italy, Gallery Phillips de Pury, Dubai, C A B I N gallery Dubai, both in the United Arab Emirates and 11 Columbia, Monaco .
Batlle was the subject of a solo museum exhibition titled Closed For Business at the Museum of Fine Arts Santiago de Chile in 2017, which traveled to The Museo De Bella Artes of Concepción de Chile in the same year. In 2019 The museums co-published Batlle’s first comprehensive monograph Works / Obras 2003 – 2018 printed by Ograma Impresores with comprehensive texts from Patricio Zárate, Katherine Chan, Fionn Meade, Adrian Dannatt, and Filippo Fossati in English and Spanish the tome contains over 150 colored plates of works.
Order the monograph here.
Batlle’s paintings spotlight pleasurable decadence – specifically gourmet, fashion, alcohol and money – to ask the viewer questions about their own indulgences and desires. His work is both a social commentary on our culture and society but also perpetuates the stereotypes and clichés he asks us to look at.“Bridgeman Images Interview 2018
- Fionn Meade ‘Transient Withdrawals’ Jay Batlle Works/Obras 2003-2018, published 2019 Museum Of Fine Arts, Santiago, Chile
- Alex Greenberg Q&A on Artspace
- David Coggins, Five Easy Pieces Huff Post Interview