Press: Jakarta Globe

4 January 2012

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Jakarta Globe, Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

Through painting, one French artist has
dis­cov­ered a window into Balinese life

Report Katrin Figge

Rhapsody For the Otherness

Born in a provin­cial vil­lage near Orleans in 1969, Bali-based French artist Jean-Philippe Haure never imag­ined that someday he would ven­ture to a for­eign country and wind up staying there for more than two decades. But life takes unex­pected turns, and Haure, whose paint­ings are cur­rently exhib­ited at One East Arts pace in Singapore, has put down roots in Bali. In fact, he feels so much at home in the trop­ical par­adise that he insisted on answering ques­tions in Indonesian for this inter­view. "It is easier for me," Haure said, "Indonesian has been my everyday lan­guage for 20 years now."

As a teenager, Haure was admitted to the renowned Ecole Boulle, an art school in Paris. "At the age of 15, I began a new life in Paris, far away from my vil­lage", he recalled. "In Paris, I missed my home and my friends, but I received the edu­ca­tion that I needed." Upon grad­u­ating five years later, Haure decided to drop art and joined the monastery of St. Benoit sur Loire. "In 1991, the head of the monastery decided that instead of mil­i­tary ser­vice, at that time still com­pul­sory in France, I would be sent to Bali to help build a craft school in Gianyar," Haure said.

"After three years of working with the school, the prin­cipal was relo­cated to Cambodia and I decided to con­tinue devel­oping the school, turning it into a small ver­sion of the ’Ecole Boulle.’" Simultaneously, Haure began to focus again on his own artistic oeuvre and quickly was invited to par­tic­i­pate in art exhi­bi­tions, where he received pos­i­tive responses. His paint­ings, many of which depict the fig­ures of Balinese women, radiate tran­quility and a cer­tain gentle­ness. Combining beauty and spir­i­tu­ality, they are simul­ta­ne­ously fig­u­ra­tion and abstrac­tion. "Here is an artist who is obvi­ously not inter­ested in formal con­sid­er­a­tions ... but by an endeavor, one should almost say an urge, to express what is to him the pristine and the pure, which he finds best embodied in Bali, and in the Balinese woman," French writer and art critic Jean Couteau, also based in Bali, writes in the exhi­bi­tion’s cat­alog. This is "not because they are icons, but because both are to him the best avail­able man­i­fes­ta­tion of this ideal, in their nat­ural ges­tures and fem­i­nine sim­plicity."

If Haure "had been born in 15th cen­tury Italy," Couteau wrote, "he would prob­ably have painted Madonnas and Tuscan land­scapes, the ideals of painting of that time." Haure said that, by painting actual human beings, he found it easier adapt to Bali and his new sur­round­ings. His art helped him under­stand the locals better. ’’I always want to find out who the person in front of me is," he said.

Jean-Philippe Haure, Ball-based artist However, it is not only the mere painting that catches the eye when it comes to Haure’s art­works; the beau­tiful frames are just as striking. Haure said that for years, he would buy ordi­nary frames for his paint­ings, and that even though he always tried to choose ones that com­pli­mented his art­work, he always felt there was some­thing missing. That’s why he decided to simply make the frames him­self. "Three years ago, I made a frame fol­lowing a dif­ferent idea and con­cept," Haure said, adding that the pos­i­tive response by those who saw the frame in his studio con­vinced him to create a
whole col­lec­tion of paint­ings adorned by his own frames.

’’For two and a half years, I worked on all the frames in the after­noon, while in the morn­ings I con­tinued to paint as usual," he con­tinued. Haure’s frames all fea­ture floral pat­terns. Completing one frame, including the carving and guilding, can take up to one and a half months. The time and effort invested in his paint­ings, the painstaking work on every detail of the frames, as well as the unique journey that took Haure to Bali, make the Frenchman stand out from other Western painters who indulge in the island’s exoti­cism.
And that is, according to Couteau, one of his most impor­tant and enduring strengths.

  J-Philippe, Bali Press review Press: Jakarta (...)

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