Presse: The Jakarta Post (anglais)

19 June 2006

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Jakarta Post, June 19, 2006.

French artist shows daily life through his ’Passages’

Rita A. Widiadana, The Jakarta Post, Gianyar

Bali and Balinese themes have been an end­less source of ins­pi­ra­tion for many artists. French artist J-Philippe, natu­rally and beau­ti­fully used the island as ins­pi­ra­tion in the 30 works recently dis­played at the CSIS buil­ding in Jakarta.

Under the theme Passages, J-Philippe brought vie­wers to the idyl­lic land of Bali through his ima­gi­na­tion and artis­tic expres­sion. The dis­played works mostly reveal ordi­nary old men and women wor­king at tra­di­tio­nal mar­kets and in the rice fields. Young female dan­cers fit­ting their glit­te­ring cos­tu­mes, beau­ti­ful girls, women and their chil­dren often appear in his can­vas­ses.

In his work entit­led Passage VI, J-Philippe por­trays a grand­mo­ther, with an old, wrink­led, sad face, sit­ting with three boys. Two more old women chat­ting can be seen in the dimly lit back­ground. In his works he pre­sents ordi­nary people with ordi­nary lives.

"Maybe because I came from low-class society in France’s rural area, it has been easy for me to vividly cap­ture their fee­ling, their emo­tion and their eve­ry­day acti­vi­ties."
"What is so spe­cial about ordi­nary people," he said, "is that they lead a simple and honest life."

Born in Orleans, France, 37 years ago, to a talen­ted arti­san, young J-Philippe ente­red the pres­ti­gious Ecole Boulle art school in Paris.
"My grand­fa­ther was a farmer, while my father is a skill­ful arti­san. Every Sunday, he did his pain­ting work just as a hobby," he quip­ped, adding he might have inhe­ri­ted his father’s artis­tic pro­wess.
Upon gra­dua­tion, he worked on the res­to­ra­tion of anti­que French fur­ni­ture. In l989, he joined the monas­tery of Saint Benoit sur Loire,
A year later, the National Service Volunteer appoin­ted him to serve at the Sasana Hasta Karya Art School in a vil­lage in Gianyar regency, thou­sands of miles away from his coun­try.

"Since I was a boy, I had always drea­med of wor­king as a volun­teer somew­here fara­way from my home. I meant a per­ma­nent volun­teer, not just a tem­po­rary one who came and went in a cer­tain period of time," he said.
J-Philippe was sent to Gianyar on a spe­cial mis­sion to become a dedi­ca­ted art tea­cher to dozens of young artists, many of whom were school dro­pouts.
A devout Catholic, J-Philippe said he did not come to Bali to become a pain­ter or as a tou­rist.

"I landed here fif­teen years ago just to serve the com­mu­nity — equip­ped with my know­ledge on arts and my com­mit­ment," he said.
At the Gianyar art school, foun­ded by French Catholic priest Father Le Coutour, J-Philippe deve­lo­ped new art tea­ching methods in the making of fur­ni­ture, dra­wing, pain­ting, car­ving and machi­nery.
Upon arri­val, he stayed at Puri Abianbase with the royal family, where he lear­ned about Balinese life and culture.
He became a member of the palace’s tra­di­tio­nal music troop Ble Ganjur.

"I star­ted pain­ting seriously in l997," he explai­ned.

"Being a forei­gner was quite dif­fi­cult some­ti­mes. After 15 years in Bali, I feel quite com­for­ta­ble here. When visi­ting my home­town, I feel like a forei­gner," he said.

For J-Philippe, art is an effec­tive tool for brid­ging two dif­fe­rent worlds, the West and the East. "Art is a uni­ver­sal com­mu­ni­ca­tion means that can reach any person, beyond geo­gra­phi­cal, cultu­ral and social boun­da­ries," he said.
Every mor­ning before tea­ching at the art school, he hides him­self in his lum­bung (gra­nary) studio on the slope of the river in Kubu Bingin art vil­lage in Gianyar.

When visi­ting his studio recently, J-Philippe dis­played some of his unfi­ni­shed works.

"I think of the back­ground of my pain­ting before put­ting objects on it," he poin­ted at a canvas already pain­ted with soft-pastel colors.
"Just follow my mood and emo­tion," he exclai­med. After com­po­sing struc­tu­res and colors on the can­va­ses then he inserts objects and cha­rac­ters that fit with the mood of the sur­face.

Art critic Jean Couteau said of J-Philippe that it was it was "defi­ni­tely color that struc­tu­res the pain­ting."

Couteau said the works were mainly abs­tract, that their main was was their color com­po­si­tion.

"A `sen­si­tive’ answer to the pro­blem of the encoun­ter of genres, J-Phillippe’s pain­tings are exactly at the cross­roads of abs­trac­tion and figu­ra­tion; and of pho­to­gra­phy and pain­ting," Couteau com­ments. J-Philippe is also an accom­pli­shed pho­to­gra­pher.

The inclu­sion of his works in dif­fe­rent genres does not bother this artist. "I only focus on my work," he said.

It was indeed dif­fi­cult to per­suade him to dis­play his works. "It requi­res a very strong com­mit­ment and effort when you agree to do an exhi­bi­tion," he added.
Talent, he said, was not enough to be a good artist. An artist should have pro­fes­sio­na­lism, patience, per­sis­tence and self-dis­ci­pline.

"You can’t accept any invi­ta­tion to exhi­bit your works when you do not have some­thing good enough to be shown to the public," he said.

In his cur­rent exhi­bi­tion in Jakarta, he dis­plays 30 pain­tings, the pro­ducts of a year of hard work.

J-Philippe did not mean to ove­res­ti­mate his works; rather he had to explain his limi­ted capa­city as a pain­ter and as a human being. "We have limi­ta­tions — of ideas, of time and energy."
Market pres­su­res have often drawn artists to end­less work.
In the last ten years, J-Philippe wit­nes­sed many young talen­ted pain­ters walk across the Indonesian art stage.

"They were pro­pel­led to rich and fame ins­tantly thanks to the power of media and art dea­lers."
However, many of them are now drai­ned of fresh ideas after suc­cum­bing to the market’s demands.
Painters, he said, needed a good patron to pro­tect them from the glit­ter and fussy market world in order to main­tain their fresh ideas, their talent and the consis­tent qua­lity of their art works.

"Galleries, art agen­cies or any par­ties can play this role," he said. The artist, on the other hand, has a res­pon­si­bi­lity to create qua­lity work.

In J-Philippe’s mind, pain­ting expres­ses his idea of huma­nity; of friend­ship and of life and culture around him.

J-Philippe’s works can be viewed at the Bamboo Gallery in Ubud, Gianyar, Bali.

[Passages VI, private Neka Museum ]

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  J-Philippe, Bali Press review Presse: The Jakarta

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