Jean-Philippe Haure, Sketch, 2012, charcoal, gouache on paper, 40 x (...)

Jean-Philippe Haure’s eternal quest for beauty

By Richard Horstman

9 September 2020

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Jean-Philippe Haure, I’ve got Dreams to Remember, 2012, water media on paper, laid down on canvas, 107 x 78,5.

A time­less art­work radi­ates unde­ni­able excel­lence, along with a mys­te­rious potency. It has a unique fresh­ness embodied within it that is enduring, remaining as vibrant as the day it was made. Such works are the design of genius; equal parts of the extraor­di­nary - skill infused with dis­tinct ideas. They are the result of a won­derful co-cre­ative pro­ce­dure in which the artist and the uni­versal spirit merge into one cre­ative and har­monic force.

Rich in an essence that allows us to be free from the phys­ical and tran­scend above it – time­less art con­nects with and touches the soul. Sometimes, such works and their cre­ators remain on the periphery of the art world, misun­der­stood and under­valued; they somehow remain unrec­og­nized.

Jean-Philippe Haure, Melancholia, 2013, water media on paper, laid down on canvas, 73 x 54.

Jean-Philippe Haure is one such artist. A sen­si­tive and gentle being his prowess comes alive in mag­nif­i­cent paint­ings that com­bine vibrant abstract back­grounds with metic­u­lous draw­ings of the human form. At a glance, his com­po­si­tions may appear con­fusing, and dif­fi­cult to deci­pher – the visual matrix we engage in is indeed unfa­miliar, being almost con­tra­dic­tory. Yet within the aes­thetic milieu Haure depicts the human con­di­tion in a manner that is uniquely his own. His cre­ative ‘voice’ defines him as one of the most tal­ented expa­triate artists to ever live and work in Bali.
Haure skil­fully posi­tions two visual worlds side-by-side, con­trasting ele­ments that rep­re­sent dis­tinct oppo­sites; one of realism, and the other of make-believe. His colourful dynamic back­grounds pre­sent count­less pos­si­bil­i­ties in our quest to bring meaning to their non-descript forms. Yet by placing these two opposing fun­da­men­tals together, the artist under­lines his inten­tion – to make a clear dis­tinc­tion between what is fan­tasy, and what is a reality.

Bali, Indonesia 

Willem Gerard Hofker , Ni Gusti Kompiang Mawar, 1945, oil on paper, laid down on canvas, 27,5 x 27,5.

Orientalism is a term not overly asso­ci­ated with the western artistic rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Bali made during the last cen­tury, more so it is con­nected with the Asian con­ti­nent. The prej­u­diced out­sider-inter­pre­ta­tions of Bali, its cul­ture and people, are shaped by the atti­tudes of European impe­ri­alism and are the foun­da­tion of the exotic artistic inter­pre­ta­tions of Bali. These visual ideas are based upon pre­con­ceived dis­crim­i­nating notions that are lim­ited, and inten­tion­ally create an emo­tional bar­rier between the sub­ject, which becomes an object, and the audi­ence. 
Haure’s inten­tion is in oppo­si­tion to this. He goes beyond the pre­con­ceived dif­fer­ences to reveal the human qual­i­ties within his sub­jects so that we may develop an emo­tional con­nec­tion. We may then reflect upon their con­di­tion while addressing our sim­i­lar­i­ties. Haure rejects the stereo­typ­ical images from the past cen­tury that pre­dom­i­nate our thinking about the Balinese. Unlike the majority of western painters who came before him, those who have objec­ti­fied the female beauty as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of sexual desire and fan­tasy, Haure empha­sizes that the Balinese are indeed human, and a reflec­tion of our­selves.

Jean-Philippe Haure, Duality XVIII, 2008, water media on paper, laid down on canvas, 107 x 78,5.

“I rep­re­sent the Balinese girls adorned in beau­tiful tra­di­tional attire, before or after, yet not within the con­text of tra­di­tional dancing, or cul­tural activity. I am not searching for the exotic cul­tural role or the person that is objec­ti­fied. I wish to cap­ture them in con­tem­pla­tive, per­sonal moments,” the artist says. “I endeavour to make clear dis­tinc­tions between what is the object and what is the human being. The Balinese female beauty is exotic, yet I believe this is an incor­rect obser­va­tion – it is the objec­ti­fi­ca­tion first without rec­og­nizing the dis­tinc­tive char­acter of the indi­vidual.”

Haure’s intro­duc­tion to Bali and his inte­gra­tion within the cul­ture is unlike any other for­eign artist who has come before him. Born in 1969 in Orléans, a city in north-cen­tral, France, in 1983 he entered Ėcole Boulle de Paris, the insti­tu­tion renown for empha­sizing cre­ativity and exper­tise, and training the finest craftsmen in the country. Upon grad­u­ating with a diploma of "métiers d’art" in 1989, he was employed on a gov­ern­ment pro­ject in the restora­tion of French national fur­ni­ture.
Devoted to Catholic Benedictine reli­gious beliefs, he joined the monastery of St. Benoît sur Loire also in 1989. Soon after Haure was posted to Indonesia and assigned to the Sasana Hasta Karya School of Art in Gianyar, Bali, and here he lec­tured on cab­inet making, drawing, painting and the oper­a­­tion of machinery. Haure devel­oped a pas­sion for black & white pho­tog­raphy in 1992, which bal­anced and enhanced his artistic pur­suits. Four years later he assumed the role as the head­master of Sasana Hasta Karya while living in the Abianbase Royal Palace, becoming a member of the Palace musical group, Bala Ganjur.

Jean-Philippe Haure, Gemini II, 2004, water media on paper, laid down on canvas, 107 x 78,5.

Dedicated to honing his drawing skills Haure began reg­ular anatomy classes at the Pranoto’s Gallery in Ubud in 1997. In the same year, he exhib­ited paint­ings in his first exhi­bi­tion in Jakarta at the Hilton Hotel. From then on he showed in-group, and solo exhi­bi­tions in Bali, Jakarta and Singapore, and he was rep­re­sented by Bamboo Gallery in Ubud, Bali from 2001. A career high­light for Haure was receiving the First Prize in 2016 for his painting Melancolia at the inter­­na­­tionnal salon de Taverny, France.

Jean-Philippe Haure, Sketch, 2012, char­coal, gouache on paper, 40 x 27.

The Creative Process

Jean-Philippe Haure, After The Bath, 2006, water media on paper, laid down on canvas, 100 x 65.

Upon our first obser­va­tion of Haure’s paint­ings, a ques­tion imme­di­ately comes to mind – what is it that the artist is trying to express? Close inspec­tion reveals the flowing con­tours of mul­tiple, har­mo­nious and con­trasting pig­ment washes on paper, and upon this dynamic milieu, the artist sketches his Balinese char­ac­ters. Watercolour, acrylic and colour pencil back­grounds meet with the pure lineal power of the graphite drawing on top. He begins the work by applying the back­ground, and this then dic­tates what and how his fig­ures may be applied.
Haure’s chal­lenge is to make the intri­cate com­po­si­tions visu­ally cohe­sive within both its real­istic and abstract ele­ments. Special atten­tion to bal­ancing blank white areas of the paper with random colourful shapes, fine pencil lines with stronger, thicker con­tours are required. Haure’s cre­ative pro­cess is purely intu­itive, with each part of the painting requiring dif­ferent tech­nical atten­tion to com­plete the details.

“I have to be adapt­able to every part of the cre­ative pro­cess and the con­struc­tion of the pic­ture, changing colours from lighter to darker or con­trasting, from thicker to thinner lines as well. The cre­ative pro­cess demands me to go in deep and inves­ti­gate,” Haure states. “Beauty has to be searched or explored and not elab­o­rated!”

Jean-Philippe Haure, Waiting for the King (detail), 2018, water media on paper, laid down on canvas, 107 x 78,5.
Jean-Philippe Haure, Duality VI, 2008, water media on paper, laid down on canvas, 73 x 54.

Inspired by clas­sical beauty and the European master painters Haure is pri­marily influ­enced by the Dutch draftsman and graphic artist Willem Gerard Hofker (1902-1981) who trav­elled the Dutch East Indies archipelago and set­tled on Bali in the 1930s. His dis­tinct paint­ings reflect his under­standing of Bali and its potent phys­ical and non-phys­ical worlds. The beauty and humanity of his Balinese char­ac­ters, along with the mys­te­rious ele­ments that emanate from the back­grounds are imme­di­ately intriguing, and rarely do we have the oppor­tu­nity to observe works of such unusual, eye-catching quality. Jean-Philippe Haure fol­lows his heart in the pur­suit of ele­gance and vis­ible per­fec­tion, man­i­festing pic­tures that stand alone. He reminds us that painting is per­haps humanity’s highest and noblest achieve­ment of all.

Words: Richard Horstman

This article is pub­lished in NowBali, September 2020:

  J-Philippe, Bali Press review Jean-Philippe Haure’

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