Jean created this mural above on the side of the gallery on Main Street Santa Monica. So cool!
With Peter Ludwig AKA Mystic Pete. Jean Bastarache gets interviewed on KXLU!
With music artists: Michael Zentner and The New Division Live in Los Angeles, CA— with Alex Gonzales, Cherie Bugtong, Bidi Cobra, Mystic Pete, John Glenn Kunkel, Michael Zentner, Steve Nalepa, Julie Rico, Jean Bastarache and Wade Harpootlian at KXLU 88.9 FM Los Angeles.
Born Jean Jacques Bastarache in Montreal, Canada, Jean was raised in Westland Michigan.
The themes of Jean's paintings revolve around key cultural and personal issues such as being lost in a robotic world of consumerism, finding a personal identity when faced with options that are often dehumanized, and the beauty of the animal kingdom often lost inside of an overpopulated planet, and existential issues of meaning and purpose at odds with current therapy and promises of false happiness.
A well known art historian, Gombrich’s stated; “There is no such thing as art. There are only artists.”
This statement may well suit the work of Jean Bastarache. For as he appeared on the art scene in the late 80’s his style of painting perplexed the main stream art world. At the time there was no category for his style of work. Yet he kept painting and showing and selling out his shows at the Julie Rico Gallery in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California up until the year 2000. Jean also showed works on the Lollapalooza tour's “Mean Art Tent” exhibition organized by Julie Rico in 1995. Today for the first time we present some of the work that was available as paintings during that period as archival prints available for purchase. On occasion originals will be available for purchase.
One of the over 100 art shows Jean installed for the Julie Rico/Rico galleries. For the group show "Industrial Metaphors".
Traipsing throughout Jean’s work are symbols, signs and images that deliver ulterior messages. His use of realism in the anthropomorphic creatures provides a melange of subliminal messages. When you look at Jean’s art you get the feeling that you are a voyeur. Perhaps an unwanted guest?
Many of the details related to the characters in the paintings are so fine one must sometimes use a magnifying glass to see them. He paints with a 1 hair brush!
In the 80’s Jean rose up with many other artists affected by the liberated american landscape that came from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s golden age of music, cartoons, the Rat Fink, television, graphic design, Frank Frazetta, Warhol, etc. This new wave of artists emerged to create a new art movement, (Low Brow/Pop Surrealists).
Today the term Pop surrealism has emerged as the new moniker for the movement that originated as Low Brow Art. Although Pop Art and Surreal Art have distinct legacies, Jean’s work inhabits the sweet spot between the two. Not only does his work have a wide appeal, like Pop Art, but simultaneously, it illustrates messages rendered deep from within his subconscious, that speaks Surreal, and gives voice to the hidden thoughts within the culture at large. At last, many artists considered Pop Surrealists have taken their rightful place in prominent private and public collections, museums and well respected institutions around the world. Jean’s work was at the forefront of creating work that marks the significant transition from Low Brow to work that shines as important and collectible in its own right. His paintings were featured in Juxtapoz Fall, 1997 and Art Alternatives, Issue #6 and his one-man shows in Los Angeles and Santa Monica always sold out!
Jean selling t-shirts by Ed " Big Daddy' Roth and Dave Burke paraphernalia at the Julie Rico Gallery in Santa Monica, CA during the Master Finks show 1999.
Jean’s careers included working on the Ford Motor Company Assembly Line in Wayne Michigan as a painter from 1975-1988.
His creative life started in Hollywood where he worked as a scenic artist for many popular television shows from 1989 till 1997. The artist Spandau Parks hooked Jean up for that job.
Jean also worked for 8 years for the inimitable Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. You can see a picture of Jean (starting on page 190 inset below) and below 1 of the paintings he did for Ed in the book titled “Rat Fink The Art of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth” by Greg Escalante and Douglas Nason.
Jean’s work has been featured in several magazines including Juxtapoz and Art Alternatives and he was asked to design the CD Cover and interior imagery for the Rapcore group P.O.D. for Atlantic Records V.P. John Rubeli.
Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon, Mike Kelly (A high school friend in Westland, Michigan), Van Gogh, Ed Big Daddy Roth, Frank Frazetta, his uncle a painter living in Canada, Herve Bastarache and Robert Williams.
Jean’s Father Clarence Bastarache originally from Moncton, New Brunswick, moved to Westland, Michigan to work at Ford Motor Company as a tool and die maker. Eventually Clarence worked at home making incredible wood carvings which included Viola de Gumba’s and small creatures, furniture and other interesting wood carvings. Jean’s Mother Schura Komenko originally from the Ukraine in Russia grew up as a ballerina. Captured by the German’s during WWII she worked in Germany as a housemaid for years till the liberation. She was allowed to become a nurse in Canada where she met Clarence. She was an astute woman with creative skills she applied to her needlework projects and her children. (Jean Bastarache is an Acadian family name, see below.)
His Westland upbringing may have had an impact on his future life as an artist. His friend from high school, Mike Kelly became a well known conceptual artist. Kelly stretched the bounds of the definition of fine art with off the wall installations using stuffed animals and other ephemera gathered throughout his life. Whereas, Kelly’s work is staunchly conceptual, Jean’s work is painting. Perhaps the one thing we can say about both artists is that they took their own path in the art world. Jean’s style of art balances between, surrealism, pop surrealism and low brow art. For the sake of art historians and collectors we are categorizing his work as pop surrealism.
"The term Low Brow art was coined by artists Robert Williams in his book titled, The Lowbrow Art of Robert Williams (San Francisco: Last Gasp, 1979). This movement has morphed into a new terminology called Pop Surrealism. Mainly because as art historian "Joseph R. Givens points out in his thesis “LOWBROW ART: THE UNLIKELY DEFENDER OF ART HISTORY’S TRADITION”", “the name Pop Surrealism was created by the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum for the 1998 namesake exhibit which featured over seventy Lowbrow artists. Since the term draws upon the familiar terminology of two existing styles, it is convenient for art galleries and art dealers. …… ‘Pop Art and Surrealism are two distinct art movements with disparate histories and conflicting intentions. Pop Artists emerged in the 1960s and were preoccupied with material culture and contemporary existence, whereas Surrealists were interested in the subconscious and metaphysical phenomena which were the primary concerns of psychological discourse in the 1920s. The term Pop Surrealism implies that the artists adhere to the formal conventions of Pop Art and Surrealism without acknowledging the intellectual foundations that were the conceptual framework for these styles.”
Special thanks to artist, Ilene Segalove for helping with Jean's Bio.
Bastarache is a pioneering family name in Acadia. You can find references to the history of this family by doing a Google search .