Jean Jansem - A Brief Background

Jean Jansem is a painter born in 1920, in the former country of Armenia. His family fled from the Armenian genocide to Greece, where he spent his childhood. In 1931, he moved with his family to France, and in 1934 attended classes at Montparnasse. In 1936 Jansem was admitted to the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, and studied at the Atelier Sabatier. His paintings were shown in the Salon des Artistes Inde´pendants in 1941, and have been subsequently displayed in various exhibitions, where he continues to receive awards.

After having his work exhibited for many years in the Salon de la Jeune Peinture, he became its president in 1958, as well as joining the Salon d’Automne the same year.

The Galerie Maurice Garnier in Paris has held many exhibitions of Jansem’s work, such as “Venice” (1967), “Dance” (1969), “Bullfighting” (1971), “The Human Figure” (1973), “Time” (1975), “Landscape” (1976), “Italian Landscape” (1977) and so on. With Jansem’s work so highly appraised, he has fulfilled requests for solo exhibitions all over the world.

In 2002 he was decorated by the Republic of Armenia’s National Academy of Sciences for his exhibition focusing on the Armenian Genocide that took place in his homeland. He was also knighted by the French Legion of Honor (Le´gion d’honneur) the following year.

An Introduction to Jansem’s Work

The themes of Jansem’s paintings have changed with the passage of time. However, he has also been consistently trying to capture an authentic intermingling of the light and the dark.

For example, he does not portray the scene of the ballerinas on stage showered in an audience’s applause, but instead the moment when the girls, who have been intensely training since a young age, let their true emotions show. Even speechless flora is treated with an equal gaze. Rather than the spectacle of flowers in full bloom within a magnificent greenhouse, Jansem chooses to paint an environment in which wild grasses are firmly rooted in the hills and fields.

While traveling in Spain he did not paint the widely admired bullring but turned his eye to the slain bull for his ‘Bullfighting’ series. At the same time in Spain he gave us a close-up of the poor but robust life of the barefoot townspeople.

“What is life and death?” Even though his life has been shaped again and again by history and war, by probing the true nature of mortality, Jansem has given us his world through his work.