Passion Painting: Jean Claracq

TikToking in the Middle Ages

An interview taken from the digital issue: Fighters! I am but a sheep, so let me howl with wolves, as I share with you my LOVE for Jean Claracq. Born in 1991 in the South of France, Claracq graduated from the Beaux-Arts in Paris in 2017. He has since won numerous awards and held prestigious shows all over France.
Instagram: @jeanclaracq

I first fell in love with the space in his work – it’s compressed, like a solid 128 mp3. You can feel the influence of the 3D aesthetic, but also of the Flemish Primitives. It’s weird to see articles describing his work as ultra-modern, because, to me, it represents the years 1430 – 1480, in a good way.

Look at how the figures spread across the surface.

How do you start your day?

When I go to the studio, usually the first thing I do is check whether the work from the days before is drying the way I thought it would.

Then I tidy up while I am drinking my coffee. I like to clean my palette every two to three days. The idea is to warm up by doing little jobs around the paintings, so I’m more focused and calm once I start to paint.

If you had to paint one thing over and over what would it be?

A view from a window would be a subject I could paint over and over. Do I have to choose which window? The idea of painting the same thing for the rest of my life sounds stressful, but at the same time, when I look at my work I do get the sense sometimes that there is a feeling that keeps coming back…

Do you like exhibiting your work? What do you do during the openings?

Yes. I always feel blessed to show my work. At the same time, I find openings to be a very difficult exercise. They’re so intimidating, that it makes me feel dizzy. If I were a bit more courageous. I probably would not go.

What is your favourite place to think about a new painting?

I used to go to the library a lot, especially the one at Centre Pompidou. But since the start of the pandemic, I stopped. I like to compose paintings in my apartment, too. It’s quiet and I can walk in a tiny circle when I don’t know how to make the composition more satisfying.

What is your relation to past painters, and the history of art?

It is very important to me. The history of paintings is a vocabulary of forms that are always linked to a context. This long history, being able to have a dialogue with the past is what makes painting such a powerful way to express human sensibility.

Which question would you like to ask your painting Idol?

I would love to meet an artist like Benvenuto Cellini, Hieronymous Bosch, Matthias Grünewald, and all those huge masters to see if they were kind to people, or as dark as some historians say. And to talk about their faith and the theological content of their work.

With modern and contemporary artists I would be delighted to meet and talk about the subjects that fascinate me.

But ultimately, I don’t think it’s important to talk to an artist. The main rule of painting is to meet the object, and I have to say I appreciate this constraint.

Read the full interview in our FIGHTERS Issue: