10 Feb So Jisbar
9 February 2018
Well set at the forefront of new French pop art, Jisbar paints snapshots from life on the canvas in flashy colors and with secret messages. As an experienced world traveler, the artist perhaps knows the airports of the cities better than the cities he visits themselves. From San Francisco to Venice and London, Jisbar is now bringing his paintbrushes for the first time to Bangkok.
Jisbar has been immersed in the world of art and skating since childhood, and he grew up with a paintbrush in hand between visiting exhibits and talking with the artists his mother would collect. Originally from Val-d’Isère and now living in Paris, the thirty-something has had an unusual career, defining himself more as a self-taught artist influenced by the energy of Andy Warhol and the boldness of Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as by the icons of his generation and the media.
Whether he’s called an artist, pop artist, or street pop artist, Jisbar accepts all labels. “I like saying that I’m just a painter. I’m drawn to pop art, and in the past, for example, I would often use Mickey Mouse in my work. Eventually, I found myself going in circles and everyone was using the same icons. I started using other more classic subjects like the Girl with the Pearl Necklace by Johannes Vermeer, which I redid in my own style. I find out about the original painting and its history, and then I twist it and apply my own style. I wouldn’t say I’m a pioneer, but rather that the subject had rarely been used before, and above all, I have a great time doing it,” he explains.
Symbolic of a generation that grew up with the Marvel characters, Mickey Mouse, and Astro Boy, Jisbar is as passionate about art history as he is about street art, and he seems to be constantly trying to get ahead of his contemporaries. “Right now, we’re seeing more and more talent. This type of art is growing, which helps it to spread. A few years ago, in Paris, there was only one gallery that combined street art and pop art, but now there are more and more galleries that combine the two. In the world of pop-street art in France, they all use Mickey Mouse and Uncle Scrooge – it’s all very ‘bling-bling.’ I try to get away from these influences, even though they can be very beautiful things. Sometimes I tell myself that it would be no surprise if, in two or three years, they’ll all be doing Mona Lisas.”
After Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Johannes Vermeer, Frida Kahlo, and Gustav Klimt, using his Posca markers, some acrylic paint, neon spray paint, and collages, Jisbar creates artworks tinged with irony and filled with details. “My goal is to combine several elements. The closer you get to the painting, the more you’ll discover the different layers. I want people not to get bored. I listen to music or the radio when I paint, and sometimes what I hear will appear in my paintings. In general, I need three days to finish a painting, and the result turns out something like a three-day photograph taken in my workshop. If a girl talks to me, I note it down. When I changed telephone numbers, I wrote it in my paintings so I wouldn’t forget it, just like with my Wi-Fi code, and so on. This is why I describe my works as snapshots of life,” he says.
As a famous artist who lives his art to the fullest, the young man started painting at around the age of 7 or 8, and he started selling his first paintings at 19. His success led him through a series of events that made his career take off, like the day when a stranger bought three of his paintings. That buyer was none other than Norman Thavaud, as in “Norman Fait Des Videos,” one of the top French mega-YouTubers. “He was at the very beginning of his career. You could see my painting in the background of his videos, and this helped me find galleries.”
In 2016, he was exhibited in the National Museum of the History of Immigration in Paris with a monumental painting representing his values and cultural references in terms of immigration. The prestigious guests who visited the museum included President François Hollande, along with several media representatives, which created a major spotlight on his work and truly launched his career in France. Internationally, the skateboard brand Santa Cruz has organized an exhibit traveling all over the world with different artists, combining young talents in the countries it visits. Jisbar joined this exhibit, which ended its journey in Santa Cruz, California, near San Francisco, where the artist found an art gallery to promote his work. “One thing led to another, and I started working almost only internationally, mostly in Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Venice, Lausanne, and in Australia,” he says.
From the list, the young French artist, who is one-quarter Chinese, was only missing Asia, and it was almost by accident that he would present some twenty works exclusive to Bangkok, from January 30 to March 13 at the So Sofitel. “One day, I posted a photo on Instagram. Jisbar commented on it, and from that, we started sending each other a few messages. I went to see what he was doing, and I loved it. In fact, we met thanks to social media,” explains Laurent Macaluso, the director of Mozart Advisory, who is organizing the exhibit and represents Jisbar in Asia.
The artist is thrilled. “I’m really happy to come to Bangkok. I’d like to carry stencils with me to customize people’s bags or t-shirts to give an interactive dimension to the event. Then, there ought to be an after party that’s less formal, which should be fun.”
Besides his paintings, Jisbar regularly collaborates with the world of fashion, customizing shoes from the JM Weston brand, or creating a capsule collection of t-shirts and bags for Armani. “I get proposals every day for exhibits or collaborations, but I don’t accept all of them. It’s important for it to be ethical, profitable for my art, and for my art to bring value to the project, whether it is for large brands or ones that are less known. In the past, I used to paint on crocodile and ostrich leather, but I don’t do this anymore as an ethical choice. In the future, I’d like to do an entire collection for a clothing brand.”
Always on the move and never short of ideas, after his time in Bangkok, the young man will be in Los Angeles before taking part for the third time in the Biennale of Venice. “I love crazy projects. I’d like to paint an airplane or boat, or even do a live painting in a helicopter or on a building! Right now, I’m preparing for Asia and I’m sure I’m going to love it!” he says with enthusiasm.
Jisbar’s Playground Exhibition
So Sofitel, du 30 janvier au 13 mars / From January 30 till March 13