The French artist sipped wine while cradling a sleeping child, strapped to his chest beneath an oversized cardigan. Large, fanciful canvasses hung from the walls of Rabbithole Gallery in DUMBO, inspired partly by mythology, religion, and literature. Shrouded in shadow and pierced with color, a pantheon of godlike figures encircled the room, reigned over by the eponymous King of Chickens.
The inspiration for the whimsical title? "Chickens live in a community garden near the house where we live," Fichefeux said, holding his son. "They are miserable things. But there is a man who cares for them. Someone has to love the chickens."
The King of Chickens looked down on the proceedings with one vigilant eye, holding a chicken to his breast. Ghostly figures comprised his white robes, the color of "chicken shit," the artist clarified. In the neighboring canvas, titled "Father and Son," a smaller figure huddled close to a larger one, a halo of energy emanating from his head.
The Sorbonne-educated artist is colorblind, an astonishing fact considering the exhibition, which employs such triumphant bursts of color. In one painting, "Encounter atop the sinking village," a black dragon engaged in fiery battle with a white dragon, as golden flames rain on a landscape smoldering in reds and blues.
Guests, many of them artists themselves, ranged in type from bohemian to preppy. Many spoke French, and after admiring the canvasses, found a place on the floor to sit, sip wine and beer, and strike up conversation. A few children ran around the gallery space, and a dog even made an appearance.
Deeper inside the Rabbithole, artist-instructor Donna Maree Wilding offered a free art class to the more hands-on guests, encouraging her students (with bottles of pinot grigio and a shiraz-cabernet blend) to create canvasses of chalk, paint, magazine clippings, and found objects.
"I really love this one," she cooed to one student in her native New Zealand accent, before flitting across the room to instruct another pupil about how to use a hot glue gun. Part of her Creatively WILD Art Studio, which teaches art to children, teens, and adults, Ms. Wilding and her assistants organize a free workshop the first Thursday of every month, coinciding with Rabbithole's opening receptions.
[Shawn Lyons, Caroline Pham]
Curator Caroline Pham and Rabbithole owner Shawn Lyons were also on hand to greet guests and provide information about the many programs offered by the gallery space, including movie screenings, readings, artist workshops by Brooklyn Creative, and even yoga classes. Since 2006, over 60 exhibitions have been displayed at Rabbithole, in addition to many pop-up art events organized throughout New York City.
King of Chickens runs through March 31 at Rabbithole, 33 Washington St., Brooklyn. For more information, go HERE.