Whether collaborating with local fashion and music labels, or filling sketchbooks with inks of female curves, graphic designer and artist, Jean André is a staple in his home of Montmartre. Taking a page from the men’s lifestyle magazines that inspire his erotic imagery, André is himself the sort of unfathomable Renaissance man they endorse.
“Cute but psycho but cute” and “Fuck everyone but you” are some of the phrases that jump off the wall of French artist Jean André’s art installation at the 2015 Art Basel in Miami titled No New Neon. As the new art director of the French record label Ed Banger, André’s personal art practice involves both lovesick phrases like those named, as well as aphrodisiac illustrations.
Fittingly, André refers to his portfolio as “Gentleman Art”. Allusion to the vintage pin-up images of the 50’s is conveyed in the model’s poses as well as André’s soft pastel palette. As in year’s gone by, the subdued tints dulcify the lascivious nature of the images. In a similar fashion, André sells both originals and copies to be ‘pinned-up’ on the wall and admired: thus the self-given title of ”Gentleman Art”.
His intimate watercolours rarely exceed 15cm x 15cm in size, affording the viewer ample room to fantasise with the covetousness of the small scale, similar to how the pastel colours helped libidinous audiences soothe their desires. In addition to borrowing from the pornography’s pin-up origins, André takes much from the strategy of men’s magazines. He shows just enough to convey the taboo, but not enough to destroy the fantasy that is for sale. But in 2015, emoticons sometimes serve to censor female genital in André’s illustrations, sometimes, not always.
Despite the title of “Gentlemen Art”, André claims that he wants his drawings to be enjoyed by everyone. To a degree, this is true. The women depicted are always involved in solo sexual acts, masturbating as though the pleasure is only theirs. That being said, the drawings are still voyeuristic, they offer up the pleasure of the visual: both aesthetic and sensual, and therefore the enjoyment is not solely the subjects’. André has authored these lustful snapshots for a supposedly gender neutral audience.
Most recently, Jean André took part in a collaborative exhibition titled Mauvaise Réputation at Berlin’s H8VW Gallery. The unique exhibition paired André’s hand drawn posters inspired by vintage tattoos of women with professional tattoos by the Crayoner, a Paris-based tattoo artist who by appointment, turned the gallery into a tattoo parlour.
Illustrations JEAN ANDRÉ