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Jean-Jacques Surian

France Born in: 1942
Jean-Jacques Surian was born in Marseille in 1942 boulevard Gazzino, which is today boulevard André-Aune, in the Palais de Justice neighbourhood. Mobilising or premonitory feature for the future painter’s "sloping subjects", stairs, high and low angle views, Boulevard André-Aune has the particularity to offer one of the biggest downslope of Marseille with an average 14% over about 400 meters.

In 1959 Jean-Jacques Surian enters the Beaux-Arts in Marseille then those of Paris in 1963 and returns to Marseille in 1965, never to leave it again. His work will never get away from it either, and La Canebière will become the centre of the world, of His world. The city then becomes the ever-present background of a much more universal subject. A kind of human comedy that experts cannot fail to locate geographically but which for others, can take place anywhere in the world. When it is not simply a transfer of city.

The art of Jean-Jacques Surian lies in his ability to embody this Brownian movement of men and passions through the arbitrary filter of his memories; with a kind of omnipotence of his childhood times as a watermark throughout his work. One constantly jumps from one thing to the other passing bluntly from mass to the brothel, from the school to the retirement home, from the first communicant to a recidivist bandit. The intromission of the viewer in this abundance of places and plots is conducted in an almost cinematic approach of the storytelling.

In the 1980s this contribution is most often found in the use of what could be likened to sequence-shots filmed with a hand-held camera. Scenes and characters are then covered by an eye that wraps itself around them, moving in front, behind, on the side, exploring every meaningful corner of image. The continuous change of perspective leads to an anamorphose of figures characteristic of the "Surian" of that time.

The "pointillist" touch furthermore fades the perception of contours and generates a confusion of shapes and patterns that Edouard Vuillard would probably have appreciated. In the early 1990s the technique softens and requires the eye to stabilize. The sequence-shot then gives way to the "polyvision". All the elements of the story are presented frontally and the narrative is created by the viewer passing casually from one to the others.

The narrative method then becomes gradually more sophisticated and introduces into the image "inlays" specific to the narrator’s experience. Although he is still today established in the latter period, Jean-Jacques Surian darkens gradually his range once so explosive and narrows the scope of his images. The line and sharpness of the edges strengthen. Places, though still in Marseille, become increasingly impersonal in front of a more and more assertive autobiographical presence. Everything happens as if, after a long journey in the shapes and colours, the artist was returning to the simplicity of his work of the 1970s. But without rejecting the pictorial contributions brought back from this long journey.
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