Jean Marc Calvet

Jean Marc Calvet

There are two major influences that drive an artist in the execution of their work. The first is internal which is composed of the past and their interpretation of individual memories. The second is their present which is the current interaction with people and the culture that surrounds them.

There is also a third dimension that separates good artists and great artists. This is the ability to see their place in the future history of art. To have an incredible work ethic and personal sense of accountability that transcends tomorrow and into the years ahead. It is the pursuit of a dream, and desire to fulfill a destiny.

In the pursuit of his current work he is brutally honest in seeking out the truth of his past, transcribing it into the symbolism of his work today and understanding its impact and value well into the future.

Jean Marc Calvet is like the perfect storm. Born in Nice, France in 1965, the first 37 years of his life brewed malevolently bringing him to a point well beyond desperation; a hell on earth. He wanted to end his own life.

The catalyst that bankrupts a human being to the point of emotional, physical, and spiritual madness can be attributed to a multitude of factors, or a single tragic event. It is the point where all that was familiar and understood begins to slip away into a gray world lacking definition. It is a place where time holds no relevance or sense of structure; the past and present melt together to create its own distorted sense of unreality. It is a place where the soul’s monsters celebrate freedom in a frenzied orgy of self destruction and external mayhem.

Whichever road this insidious evil chooses to take, the impact is both devastating and all consuming.

There is only one hope for salvation. On very rare occasions, the soul is miraculously graced with an exit from this nightmare downward journey with a passage marked “Redemption”.

Calvet discovered his path to salvation; his mission…….to paint.

He is a legitimate self-taught artist, an outsider in every spirit of the word. His first works were crude explosions of his inner turmoil exploding on any surface that was close with any materials that would leave a trace. Having never been taught to draw or paint, or ever having had any interest in art, he is a true original.

However as Ed Mc Cormack Managing Editor of Gallery and Studio Magazine said very astutely:

“There is a very real danger for an artist as brilliant as Calvet in having too colorful a back-story. It is too easy for the legend to flourish at the expense of the art. (Just think how many people know nothing about van Gogh except that he cut off his ear.) That Calvet happens to be self-taught only complicates matters. It could too easily get him relegated to the gilded ghetto of so-called “outsider art” and deprived of his rightful place in the mainstream art world, where he most definitely belongs, given the innate sophistication of his vision and the accomplished technique with which he makes it manifest on canvas.”

A retrospective view of his work shows a distinct and stepped development in his technical and artistic skills over the years. However the work is always definitively recognizable as the product of Calvet with hallmarks that remain constant.

Seven years on, Calvet delivers a marked sophistication in his works that adds clarity yet maintains the spirit of the true brut style that birthed him as an artist. His repertoire of colors continues to develop giving a richness that further enhances his work. The large scale of his works adds to the impressive impact they make. He has continued to increase his canvases on occasion giving him ample room to evoke his stories with subjects that still explode out of a Pandora’s Box with his own brand of manmade monsters. Each of his creatures is vivid with emotion and their own individual stories. Now instead of the creatures wreaking havoc on Calvet personally, he is able to release them and imprison them on canvas.

Calvet works with a ferocity that defies most; often working non-stop until a work is complete. He is regularly found to be painting 12-18 hour days and so despite the intensity and detail required to complete one work, he is able to turn out a generous volume of work. It is this work ethic and an accountability that he shows in his work of his prior life and his pursuit of a bright future that ensures the dynamism of his work. Despite his output, the works are never repetitive or tired. His commitment to the creativity that wells from within him is absolute.

Today, Calvet is based in Granada, Nicaragua. He has exhibited his work in Europe, the United States and South America including several solo shows in New York and Nicaragua. His work is held in several private collections and work is about to placed in several museums. His life story has also been captured in a feature documentary which is planned to premier next year.

Calvet is a charismatic man, warm and generous. On first impressions you might not imagine him to be the source of his paintings. However salvation can be a slippery slope and he understands the warning:

“Those who forget where they came from are bound to relive their past”

Looking at Jean Marc Calvet’s paintings allows you to experience an explosive visual arts experience and glimpse the depths of his soul from the safety of the other side of the canvas, a place that he also stands today thanks to the grace of redemption.

Bob Hogge
Monkdogz urban art
New York Gallery

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