Interview: Jean Paul Schmitt
Luca Curci talks with Jean-Paul Schmitt during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2021, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Listed professional painter, Jean-Paul Schmitt lives in France in the Monts du Lyonnais. He has been painting for more than thirty years after having carried out for fifteen years activity of actor, writing and staging several plays. He is a member of the French Association of Arts, Sciences and Letters, of the Lyonnaise Academy of Painting (ALP), of the Regional Association of Arts (ARA) in Lyon. In addition to personal exhibitions, he takes part in numerous events in France and abroad and is permanently present in several galleries. His works are in several international collections, notably in Germany and the USA. They have been distinguished several times (recently: Beijing International Arts Prize 2016 – Jury Gold Medal and Grand Prize at the Salon de Rive de Gier 2017 – Special Jury Prize at the Salon Hivernal de Lyon 2018 – Grand Trophée des Arts des Artists of Honor 2018 by the Museums and Culture Editions – Silver medal 2019 from the French Association of Arts, Sciences and Letters).
LUCA CURCI – What’s your background?
JEAN-PAUL SCHMITT – I have been a listed professional painter for several years. I live in France in the Monts du Lyonnais. I have been painting for almost thirty years after having worked as an actor for fifteen years, writing and directing several plays. My original training is engineering training. My training as a painter took place over ten years with various professionals. I am a member of the Lyonnaise Academy of Painting (ALP), the Regional Arts Association (ARA) and the Group of Twelve. Along with my pictorial creations I edit texts written in rebound on my canvases.
LC – What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
JPS – My sharing as a painter as well as my exchanges with a former “Prix de Rome” in engraving. Besides his way of working on compositions and lines of force, his work with light in his engravings and portraits, all of this remains a powerful guide for me.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society?
JPS – I see myself as an artist as a conveyor, like someone who accompanies beauty. I would like my gaze on the world and on the Real to bring joy or at least serenity to those who view my work. I believe that despite the darkness and the drama, art can heal the soul. I like this statement from Brancusi: “What really makes sense in art is joy. You don’t need to understand. That’s what you see makes you happy? Everything is there!”
LC – And the contemporary art?
JPS – If we mean by contemporary art the aesthetic practices and achievements that convey ideas or concepts (conceptual art or performative art for example), here is my attitude: when I go to a so-called contemporary art exhibition, I want to enter the works of art without “explanatory” precondition. The mental research of the concept, beforehand or in progress, often perplexes me and hinders my contemplation. I prefer to try to resonate with the works without mental. Installations in the name of the readymade or accumulations of objects too quickly call the mind to search for meaning without giving the heart time to find its jubilation.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
JPS – I work on my canvases with preliminary drawings or sketches. This is the moment that I love. When I switch to painting, the hardest part is finding the right colors dynamics, laying out good lines of force: I often do this part in acrylic before then moving on to thick paste oil.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
JPS – At the beginning, once the techniques were more or less mastered, I got down to copying and diverting some great masters of painting (Caravaggio, De La Tour, Claude Gelée, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and so…). It taught me a lot. It also held me back prispner. To release my paint touch and gain freedom, took me a few years. Working with a spatula in flat circles brought vigor and energy to my work.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? In which way did it inspire you?
JPS – I was won over by the concepts of this eighth edition of the festival. The relationship between body and space in particular. The viewer’s body resonates and vibrates in front of a work of art that touches them. Before even recognizing what he sees, invisibly he enters the space of the painting. Whether it is the space of a landscape or the space around a genre scene. Another space is then substituted or added, more intimate and resonating with one’s own conscious or unconscious memories. Formally recognizing the painted pattern is only one step, invisibly he penetrates the space of the painting. Of course, the sky over La Rochette du Buis has never been vermilion red. Never the fields and the herbs do not have this blue, nor the furrows between the lavenders this yellow. But these colors make the body of the viewer vibrate differently. Is not color a vibration that resonates with those of the body? Of course, the snow which remains on the fields and the edges of the path of Paysage d’Hiver II never has that blue which appears on the canvas, but the undulations of the path which leads towards the horizon do they not bring everything gently to who is watching and contemplates the distant calm where he joins the mists? Maybe those of a serene and distant future? In his mind, he walks…
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
JPS – Yes, I appreciate this collaboration with ITSLIQUID!