Of Germanic descent, the painter Jean Krillé was born in 1923 in Switzerland. His father, writer and poet, oriented him towards art and culture. From the age of 16, he enrolled at the School of Fine Arts in Zurich, then the School of Arts and Crafts in Vevey. A year later, he already has his first exhibition. He also learned art history at the University of Bern. In 1945, he left for five years in Paris where he studied at the National School of Fine Arts and at the same time attended the Saint-Germain des existentialistes, that of Prévert, Sartre and Le Corbusier. A perfectionist, he also studied architecture and became an architect.
His first creations are book illustrations, lithographs, posters, drawings and reports in the press. Jean Krillé stayed in London and then in Munich where he was associated with a renovation company for historic monuments. In 1955, he opened his own architectural office in Geneva, which allowed him, paradoxically, to devote himself to painting.
An unrepentant traveler, Jean Krillé has toured the world several times. But Africa attracts him invincibly. In this new continent, he has the leisure to exercise his multiple talents as an architect, painter and reporter, in different countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Congo… He is even a delegate of an organization humanitarian aid during the Biafran war.
But another continent is offered to him: the United States. From 1964, he flourished there very quickly, far from the shackles of Europe and he stayed there for so long that he earned the nickname of American. He then divides his time between the two continents. In Switzerland, he lives in Mont-sur-Rolle. His works are present in many American museums. Jean Krillé has produced a lot.
His painting gives pride of place to landscapes, most often imaginary but from real elements. At the limit of abstraction, it offers generous lines and bright colors. Its skies sometimes evoke tragedies. There emerges from his work a certain interior force which seduces, in a halo of romanticism. A resolute opponent of ostentation and show business, Jean Krillé distills a strong message that still touches us today. His still lifes exude a soft and melancholy emotion. Her bouquets of flowers are like so many bursts of color from a painter who loved them to the point of intoxication. A few portraits also testify to his great sensitivity towards people.
Its message is both simple and deep. His last exhibition at the Musée de l'Athénée, in Geneva, in the spring of 1990, is like a firework display of colors and shapes. Jean Krillé died the following year and was buried in the cemetery of Mont-sur-Rolle. Facing the lake and facing eternity.
Work on panel
Flush frame in white wood
101 x 101 x 4cm