Jazzu, a rising star of the contemporary art scene, chats to us about his artistic journey, and how he feels about the art world. Self-taught across various disciplines and drawing inspiration from ‘naïve’ art, his work is influenced by the great Jean Michel Basquiat, who was a major factor in the development of Jazzu’s passion for art. Jazzu spills his emotions into his canvases. Powerful, rich and intense, his paintings are the reflection of an artist pulled in many directions, who uses his art as a sort of self-expression, as intimate as a diary.
How do you define your relationship with art?
Art first came into my life via literature, poetry, and lyrics, thanks to my mother, and also my father who’s a musician. The visual arts came later. Different circumstances across my life lead me to photography, drawing, and then painting. Although I have always felt the need to write, and then draw, I’m self-taught and always looking to teach myself, grow in my practice. I never feel satisfied. I visit exhibitions, read books, go to conferences….
Could you walk us through the key elements of your journey?
I had an unusual journey into art, I fell into painting out of necessity: I had to express the pain, rage, madness that I was living through every day in my job (special educator). I built up my understanding of artistry and culture through a friend who had studied fine arts. He taught me about different artistic movements, artists who could bring something to my personal style. When I discovered naïve art it was like something just clicked. Freedom of movement was the starting point for me.
You describe your work as a reflection of your emotions, which do you feel guides you the most? Anger? Joy? Where do you get all of this energy that is released onto your canvases?
Emotions are clearly a huge source of drive for me. It doesn’t matter which one is particularly dominant when I get into my studio, because I never know what’s going to happen. It’s the true inner me, the unconscious, which expresses itself; it guides me through gestures, curves, or even colours. Often anger is a starting point, but I always try to put in a bit of light to give a bit of positivity. It’s important to strive towards seeing the good along with the bad. Painting gives me a better emotional balance.
Which artists have particularly influenced you and who are your biggest artistic inspirations?
My first big “wow” moment came when I was standing face to face with Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Slave Auction, which is at the Pompidou. It was hung next to one of Klein’s monochromes in an intense and magnificent blue. I said to myself, this artist is free, and for me that freedom was a totally new concept. After this I discovered Soulages, Combas K., Haring K. Appel and the CoBrA movement. In terms of colour, I love N. De Stale or even Rothko and the madness of F. Bacon. All of these artists inspire me when I’m creating. But above all of this, my main source of inspiration is my life. That’s what inspires me.
I live my dream every day, I can only hope it will continue.
Do you have any favourite cultural centres?
Without hesitation I have to say the Pompidou Centre and the Museum of Primitive Art at the Quai Branly. I can spend hours in either of those places. I’ve come across so much incredible art there: African Art, masks, or even Lucien Freud, who is one of my absolute favourites.
What project do you dream of doing? And do you have any news?
Currently I’ve got a solo show in the Serventi gallery in Toulouse. Loads of projects are in the works, lots of exhibitions overseas. I live my dream every day, I can only hope it will continue.