INTERVIEW : Jisbar, pop-street artist, Tells us about his career

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INTERVIEW : Jisbar, pop-street artist, Tells us about his career

First artist to reinterpret the most iconic works of classical art – from Frida Kahlo to Mona Lisa by way of Klimt – Jisbar is an artist with many/multiple influences, at the crossroads of Pop Art and classical art. A new and clear identity, colorful and committed.

Exhibited all around the world, his works are not simply painting. For the 90th edition of the 24 Heures du Mans ,Jisbar teamed up with driver Pipo Deranito create a colourful helmet, which was seen on 11 and 12 June.

Looking for the most iconic collaborations and events in the news, Icon-Icon met with Jisbar, to bring you an exclusive interview with him.

First of all, could you tell us about your background?

My name is Jean Baptiste Launay, I’m 33 my artist name is Jisbar.

I work mainly with galleries and museums around the world – San Francisco, Miami, New York, London, Paris, Singapore…

I’m quite collaborative, I love working with other artists or brands with strong identities like Dj Snake, LG, IKKS or Pipo Derani.

To come back to my rather “studio” art, I am a painter but I also do sculpture, NFT.

I made my first drawing at the age of 3 to announce my little sister birth, precisely on the birth announcement. It is a drawing I still have and I love it. Then I always had the memory of drawing – summers with my grandparents, my first contact with an easel, on a canvas, at the age of eleven – then it never left me and I decided to make it my profession about ten years ago

Based between Paris and Lisbon, your influences are multiple, could you tell us about them?

That is true that I traveled a lot, I lived in France – in Lyon, Annecy, Paris – in the Netherlands, in Portugal. Being an artist allows me to travel to places that inspire me and to immerse myself in them.

My inspirations are multiple, I see myself as a sponge, I store a lot and I also retranscribe on my canvases what I have seen, the sensations that go through me.

The panel of inspiration is very vast, to come back to the work itself, I am very much inspired by Pop Art – its colours, its message.

The movement that interests me a lot is also Street Art.

Your works are a mixture of classical and pop influences, what are you trying to express?

My work is a mixture of classical and pop culture.

I took up these classical works of art, a little in my own way, that is to say in a more contemporary way, more “fine art” first and foremost to reinforce my culture of art history. As an artist, I found that I had a few gaps, especially in the more academic techniques.

I didn’t go to art school, so for me the only way I could get interested in this somewhat “academic” world was to take up classic works in my own way. I would find out about the work, the artist, the period, the movement, the technique.

I start from that and then obviously I add my own touch which is more contemporary, more modern, more pop in the colours, in the message, in the way of composing the canvas because it simply resembles me. It’s really a mix between two worlds.

Some of your works are even committed, like United where we can see two flags kissing, do you see art as a way to convey strong messages?

Actually, United represents two flags that embrace each other, but for me art is a language that is more complete than talking.

There are words, symbols, textures, we can go into more detail, art is also used to convey messages, it’s obvious. I mainly try to pass on positive messages to bring a little joy and happiness.

But it is true that from time to time, when inspiration or current events are strong and affect me, I try to pass on a more committed message, sparingly.

UNITED, jisbar

Could you tell us about the techniques and materials you use ?

I am mainly focused on painting, acrylic on canvas but I will also use everything I have available in my studio i.e. pencils, oil sticks, bombs, pens, markers…

I try to put a variety of mediums in my paintings because I think that’s how I work, I have a variety of subjects, elements and it’s that mix that I think makes a good painting in the end.

The fact that I didn’t have a background in art allowed me to tinker with my tools to achieve what I had in my head, I think I drew real strength from that and I became multidisciplinary.

Apart from paintings, I do sculpture in resin or bronze, which involves drawing, preparatory sketches and also 3D computer modelling. I have also done NFTs, mainly by tablet, by digitisation. My mediums are therefore very diverse, including painting, I can do it on canvas but also on clothes, shoes, that is to say decline the support by keeping the same techniques.

If there was one, what would be the Jisbar signature, the one that makes us recognise your touch at a glance?

The Jisbar signature is, I think, an accumulation of diverse and varied elements that are not linked to each other but that everyone can appropriate to create their own story through a work.

Generally, in my background, there are enough elements to create your own little story and have things that touch you. I hope to have a variety of elements and influences to try to touch people.

Do you have a painting, a work that can be described as iconic ?

I think my best known work is the revival of the Mona Lisa which was exhibited in the collection of the Prime Minister of Luxembourg.

Ten years later, the Grand Palais Immersif with the support of the Louvre Museum called me to exhibit this Mona Lisa in an exhibition called “The Mona Lisa, Exhibition, Immersive”.

For me, this painting has an incredible history, I also sent one into space for the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death to pay tribute to him. So the work that I think is emblematic of my work is this cover.

la joconde according to jisbar

Tell us about your craziest projects, I’m thinking in particular of your very recent creation of Pipo Derani’s helmet for the 24h du Mans or the space travel of one of your paintings.

Pipo Derani is a Brazilian enduro racer with whom we have a very good relationship.

During the 24 heures du Mans, he asked me to paint his helmet and gave me carte blanche. It’s a totally artistic helmet dressed in the workshop, with several mediums: acrylic, spray, pencil, as on a canvas.

This helmet was auctioned to benefit the GRAACC association, a hospital in Sao Paolo that helps children fight cancer.

It’s a mix between the world of art, motorsport and a noble cause, so it’s a very interesting project to do.

Several times a year, we set up charity events, which is very important to us as artists.

To make the experience complete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, I tagged Pipo Derani’s car just before the start, in order to make a link with the helmet and at the same time promote it to raise as much money as possible for the operation. Thanks to this action, we were able to raise 12,550 euros for the Graacc hospital.

pipo derani’s helmet by jisbar for the 24h du mans

You have also made many collaborations, such as the creation of the iconic IKKS sailor suit. How do you revisit such a classic in a Jisbar way?

It’s my second collaboration with IKKS.

The first one – the Leather Story– was around leather, around a perfecto, a clutch and a classic bag on which I intervened with a design and a phrase printed on the sleeves, on the face of the bag.

Ikks perfecto signed Jisbar

The second one, Free the Sea, was about the IKKS sailor’s jacket revisited with Seaqual yarn – a recycled yarn from marine waste. The Sea Cleaner association helped in this process, it was already something that spoke to me, so we printed the sleeves on the sailor with an exclusive design that I made.

I wanted to go a step further and make these sailors into a real work of art, i.e. I wanted to physically intervene on each of the 250 sailors with tags, splashes of paint on the bottom, with my handmade signature and a numbering on the sleeve so that each one becomes a real work of art.

Each sailor was given with a certificate of authenticity in a customised case. We were truly buying a piece of art.

The IKKS marinière revisited in a jisbar style

Is there a collaboration that has particularly marked you and that you would like to share with us?

I loved the collaboration with Pipo Derani because it was new and had a charitable purpose, and it was the first time that an artist painted a car live, just before the start of Le Mans. So it was a big organisation and a real challenge.

I also loved my collaboration with DJ Snake for the Carte Blanche album where I designed his stage outfits and his “Pardon my French” collection – for his clothing brand.

It was already an incredible experience to have the chance to work with him and to be able to use my ideas for the benefit of this world-renowned artist.

A good reason to go and discover your work in Paris at the OA Fine Art Gallery in Paris for your exhibition Evolution?

This expositionévolutionis an accomplishment for me because you can see the progress of my work over time, for example by the different media used in the different periods.

On theprints, there are lithographs on which I made a montage of my works with the first Mona Lisa and then went on to my canvases with classical and unpublished subjects, which allows collectors and the public to see new things.

This is also the first time that I have exhibited my preparatory drawings. We have made a selection of ten preparatory drawings that allow the viewer and the collector to enter my studio because they are things I have never shown before, they are simply sketches that are used as a moodboard.

Finally, on my brand new works of art – my sculptures – it is the first time that I have made some that are tangible, in bronze – a noble material, a material that is close to my heart because it is a real savoir-faire, something important for me to have bronze workers work on it. The bronze piece is never perfect, it has its faults which make it perfect in the end.

Jisbar’s sculptures

The name of the exhibition Evolutionis not chosen at random, it represents my evolution through my first paintings, my sketches, my canvases, to arrive at my brand new works of art, my sculptures.

What is the future for you? More challenging future projects? New media?

I really like to create synergies between several universes, to mix two universes to create something common. I really see the future in this sense, because in terms of mediums, there are new ones that appeared a few years ago, which will develop further, for example NFTs, I think we are only at the beginning.

We hear a lot about NFT, would you like to tell us more about it?

A year and a half ago, I created my first NFT collection, which was a bit special because the market was not at all what it is now.

Following the success of the web in space, we decided to send the first NFT into space. It was an NFT in the form of a canvas, cut into 40 parts, each of which was auctionable, i.e. the highest bidder in each part won the part of the canvas. At the end of each auction, the person who won it was allowed to send me the message to see it written on the canvas.

I filled all 40 parts of the canvas with messages from the buyers. We sent this canvas into space and then it came back to earth.

The video of each game was the NFT authenticated in the blockchainand then each collector was sent the framed canvas they had customised and sent into space as a souvenir.

It was a great project, a bit innovative at the time and today I’m finalising my second, more contemporary NFT collection of 10,000 NFTs.

I tried to bring a real variety to this collection with more than 300 strokes, but also to really work on the background, which is often in most collections neglected, to bring an artistic touch with things that have been done 100% digitally, but also things that come from my works to bring more variety, content by trying to tell a story.

This NFT will be presented as a book of my ten-year career. Each NFT will have a story, each element, each line, a meaning. We will try to launch this collection in the next few months, we are waiting for the right time to do it.

Finally, would you have an object, a memory, a fetish smell that follows you everywhere and that you would like to share with us?

My favourite object would be a felt-tip pen, I always have one in my bag to scribble, to draw.

The smell that follows me most is that of the spray can.

I try to immortalise my memories as best I can in my phone, I take a lot of photos and I hope to remember every moment, especially those spent with the public at each exhibition. these are magical moments, I realise how lucky I am to be doing this job and every day I try to make the most of it.

Interview by Sébastien Girard, President of Icon-Icon and Saskia Blanc.

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