artist painter
aller directement au contenu de la page.
Jean-Sylvain Lapouge - Painter


version française

French Version

jean-sylvain Lapouge

tableau paysages

Detail of a landscape painting in oils

tableau paysage aquarelle

Detail of a Parisian landscape painting in watercolors


Jean-Sylvain Lapouge - Painter


What determined you to paint ?

JSL. : After 30 years spent as a professional graphic designer working for various agencies, I decided to dedicate the rest of my lifetime to the art of painting. Since my childhood, I have always painted. To begin with, I was taught to paint and draw by my maternal grand-father, Maurice Devocelle, who was a self-taught worker. My gratitude goes to him today because, along with climbing, aikido and philosophy, which are my other passions, the art of painting gave a meaning to my life.

Is there a relationship between your various passions ?

JSL : The main thread must be the self-realisation, the « Way », in Eastern philosophical terms.

The mountain as a reality and a symbol

In my youth, I used to regularly practise mountain climbing. The risks involved made me aware of life’s value and fragility, of mankind’s pettiness too. To clench my thirst for physical adventure, I needed the vast expense of wilderness. I was of course touched by the magnificence of the landscapes but action, not contemplation, was my priorities. Time has passed by. Memories are coming back. My love for the mountain is more often expressed now with the brush than with ropes and hooks. I still feel very close to the mountain but as a symbol of eternity, of everything that we cannot reach, of our permanent effort, of our human insignificance, of the spiritual quest. Time has come for contemplation I guess....

The journey, not the destination, is what matters.

I always felt attracted towards Eastern thoughts and culture. I am an Aikido exponent since 30 years. The concept of “Do” (“the Way”) helped me a lot in my search for artistic perfection. The quest for the right move at the right moment is common to the art of painting, especially in watercolours where an awkward stroke can spoil the whole painting in a split second without any scope for correction. How do we know that a painting is truly finished, a work of art totally accomplished? The world famous Japanese painter, Hokusaï, used to say that he had started mastering his art at the age of 73: “At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive.”

Between the Far East and the Italian Renaissance

My intellectual curiosity and my spiritual quest lead me to the discovery of Japanese and Chinese arts and literature, Taoism, Zen meditation and Buddhism. It has naturally influenced to a certain extent my artistic works. I like to think that the viewer will walk inside one of my pictures as per the recommendation of the 11th century Chinese painter Guo Xi. The Japanese arts and, more specifically, the Japanese gardens touch me deeply.

But I am fascinated equally by Western thoughts, philosophy and arts, and the story of mankind’s evolution. The Italian Renaissance and the beginnings of humanism are a prodigious era. I also feel a great love and attraction for Ancient Greece, its arts and culture.

Do you appreciate contemporary art?

JSL.: Although my pictorial research is figurative, I believe it is modern too. Today, abstract art is almost hundred years old. It was new only at the beginning of the 20th century. Of course I admire some of the great masters of “contemporary art” such as Picasso, Matisse, Klee; they used to inspire me during the 30 years I used to work as a professional designer in the advertising business. But, at present, my artistic feeling tends more towards realism. After decades of “destructuring”, I feel the need to focus on graphics which can be closer to the sensibility of a wider public and to the capacity of understanding of the man in the street. To communicate better my emotions to the viewer, I privilege the careful selection of the subject, the harmony of framing, the quality of light.

Who are your favourite painters?

JSL.: In my youth, the surrealists (Dali, Marx Ernst, Dorothea Tanning, Yves Tanguy) and the impressionists (Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir) influenced me a great deal. Later, when I matured, I felt the necessity to concentrate on the study of the Great Classical Masters: Vinci, Raphael, Poussin, Corot, Rembrandt, Dürer. From my mother side, I am close to the Flemish School of painting: Van Eyck, Rogier Van der Weyden, Vermeer, and the greatest of all, Rembrandt. While studying watercolour techniques, I naturally came to discover and admire the 19th century English School Masters, more particularly William Turner, but also Richard Parkes Bonington who, had he lived beyond his 26 years, might have gained world fame indeed. The Quattrocento Masters will always be a source of immense pleasure to my eyes: Filippo Lippi, Paolo Ucello, Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini, Gorgione, the enigmatic Piero di Cosimo, they all put my imagination on fire. For his depiction of urban landscapes, Canaletto is an unparallel model. I admire Le Lorrain’s and Georges de la Tour’s total mastery of light.

Closer to our modern era: the Barbizon School, Corot, Rosa Bonheur (with her magnificent cows), Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Degas (especially his drawings), Gauguin. Also Russian paintings, unjustly underestimated: the wide forested wilderness depicted by Ivan Chichkine, the fabulous “Ninth Wave” by Ivan Aïvazovski. Some romantic painters such as Caspar David Friedrich and also some symbolist artists like the German painter Arnold Böcklin, who unfortunately happen not to be famous in France, are also a source of inspiration to me.

As you can see, my artistic tastes are eclectic; I believe in tolerance; to me, all creative research is valid as long as it is sincere and based on hard work.