Jean-Marie Rodrigues: Painting With Eyes Wide Shut

© Jean-Marie Rodrigues: portrait of the painter 

"Art addresses itself to the mind, and not to the eyes. It has always been considered in this way by primitive peoples, and they are right."

- Jean Dubuffet 

An absence that encourages bringing to the surface situations, emotions, characters from life...A raw type of art that could be created with eyes shut, as it is triggered by mental images, vibrations and sensations from the outside world. This is how we could describe the painting of Jean-Marie Rodrigues, a French painter based in Bordeaux, Originally a construction expert, Jean-Marie Rodrigues has been experimenting with different art mediums for almost 30 years, from theater costumes, up to painted wood sculptures, ceramics and lastly paintings with acrylic pigments on wood. As a painter, J.M. Rodrigues proposes a vision of an EXTRA-ORDINARY world, giving a visual representation of a silent humanity, of the interior richess of common people and life encounters that are accentuated by color.


Like the founder of the Outsder art movement Jean Dubuffet, who saw art in everyday's life, outside academic and conventional establishments, the artistic expression of J.M. Rodrigues is driven from a strong personal emotional need, in opposition to every conventional artistic code. "In the beginning I was using every possible tool except the one of a painter. At one point, I was even painting with a broom", explains J.M. Rodrigues. The material of wood allowed him to obtain an absolute liberty without attachment: "I was able to scratch it, walk over it, everything was possible on wood, I could even paint with eyes shut", adds J. M. Rodrigues.


© Jean-Marie Rodrigues: Funny number (Drôle de numéro), 2023, acrylic pigments on wood, 73X92 cm

"I have always tried to find something that I was missing. In my paintings I have managed to find that missing part."

The impression left by the Funny Number (Drôle de numéro) from 2023 is not far from the original inspiration of the war escalation in Ukraine. We are almost left speechless and confused between the striking contrast of the vibrant yellow and the decomposed creatures that scream terror and fear, dispersed outside any possible context of space. We could even argue that the color is a sort of a manifesto for life, reminding us that humanity will prevail despite the horror, like a battle between light and dark.


To accentuate a realistic dimension J.M. Rodrigues prefers larger formats. Each painting is often a multi-step process, in order to convey the emotion. "Sometimes by observing the painting in a different space I realize that it is not yet finished, and needs to be retouched", adds Jean-Marie. Like a lot of painters, J.M. points to the necessity of a free spirit, required to create. He is most creative in the summer period, where he isolates in his studio often accompanied with electronic acoustic music and mirrors. The dissonance of a repetitive music allows one to get in touch with one's deepest self and the mirrors destructure the movement and permit to control the balance of various elements of the painting.

© Jean-Marie Rodrigues: The Invisible (L'Invisible), 2023, pigments/acrylic/canson paper, 21X30 cm

© Jean-Marie Rodrigues: Supreme sense of nobility (Sens suprême de la noblesse), 2023 acrylic pigments on wood, 50X60 cm

"The idea is ECCE HOMO, the soul of the individuals that I was able to come across."

Creating art outside any norms, requires freedom from constraints. J.M. Rodrigues mentions several influences that helped him in finding the EXTRA-ORDINARY in various types of creative endeavors, and confidence in his own artistic language. In 2010, the now deceased theater director and actor Jacques de Berne proposed to Rodrigues to create theater costumes for professional comedians. This first experience with the theater, where he saw the  magic of an acting play come to life, allowed him to move a step forward with his own characters, to exemplify the shapes.


Another decisive movement was the encounter with the painter René Bouilly, at one point the director of the Municipal School of Fine Arts in Bordeaux. It was Bouilly that told him to take a completely white canvas and walk past it every day, until he starts seeing something on it. "From that time on, I used all possible needs to bring to surface what is hidden within oneself: moving from an abstraction to a figuration, without brush, with hands, cardboard, and even nail claws. The color and supports are nothing more than means to translate and represent a thought", explains Rodrigues.

© Jean-Marie Rodrigues: Common meaning (Sens commun), 2023, acrylic pigments on wood, 60X50 cm

Lastly, it was the French painter and sculptor Lydie Arickx who gave him the ultimate kick of just going for it, freely expressing the flow of the rawest sensations and vibrations on canvas, during a physically and mentally challenging outdoor art colony in 2000, in Saint-Geours-de-Maremne. "The “letting go” operated until the moment when the character, the animal present on the support, facing me, miraculously started to come out of the picture! This effect was completely surrealist. It pushed me to calm things down, to avoid a shift that I could not master... I was in total fusion with an inner story, a mystery in movement", elaborates Rodrigues. 

© Jean-Marie Rodrigues: Together (Ensemble), 2024, acrylic pigments on canvas, 73X92 cm

In all of the presented paintings we can feel a little glimpse of the world in all its complexity: from the disturbing chaos up to the profound understanding of the passage of time, of the universality of human emotions  that we  feel so deeply. In "Together", we can feel the delicacy of an intimate emotion, a sort of timeless affection that exists beyond time and space. It is, as always, embellished by thick brush spreads that enhance the vibrancy of the color palette.


Rodrigues manages to portray a strong life truth that was commonly expressed by the artists of the Art Brut movement: that we are at once everything and nothing, and at the end, just a grain of dust in the space. Following this idea, what prevails are emotions, sensations and feelings. Like in the Supreme sense of nobility, our eyes don't need to imagine a magnificent lady in a generous gown, the personal mental image arises immediately from our deepest self. What attracts us to these paintings is the possibility to automatically find what we all feel inside ourselves. Rodrigues manages to place us in front of scores played on another scene, in another time, which we could call mythological. It is an art of endless richness, writing EXTRA-ORDINARY, fabulous stories, nourished by EXTRA-ORDINARY mental constructions. 

© Jean-Marie Rodrigues: Offscreen (Hors champ), 2023, acrylic pigments on canvas,114X146 cm

"Art is a means to transmit life and a way of maintaining it. It is a way to express emotions that can not be verbally expressed. It is what allows us to live and survive."

Add comment


Jerome Zucchi
11 days ago

Jean-Marie est "une force du Passé" nourri de tant de choses. Chaque oeuvre interpelle, va chercher au plus profond de notre être cette petite lumière qui vient éclairer l'ensemble. Le mouvement est présent, le geste s'intensifie, je suis touché, ému. Chaque oeuvre rend sensible, face à tant de vérité.

nadine grigoletto
11 days ago

Avoir la sensation de comprendre alors que la création c'est tellement personnel, intime...
Etre happée par le sentiment de connaître, alors que les histoires diffèrent
Sentir, confusément, la similitude de l'Histoire. et
peut-être envier ton exorcisme pour ne pas l'avoir vécu.

Jean-Charles MILLEPIED
11 days ago

Quand on est face à la peinture de JMR, on doit impérativement se détacher des codes de lectures classiques.
Je ne pense pas que l’on puisse parler ici de peinture instinctive car la maîtrise et le contrôle des émotions se font ressentir.
Nous sommes là très proches de l’abstraction, la couleur est bien présente et joue un rôle primordial dans l’œuvre. Cette couleur chez JMR qui peut être provoquante, jusqu’à l’outrance parfois et qui sert bien le maître.

On ressent, sous les différentes couches peinture, les histoires dissimulées. Les bons et les mauvais souvenirs qu’il faut savoir effacer afin d’atteindre la substantifique moelle de ses émotions du moment.
Il va puiser au plus profond de son intimité pour laisser émerger des silhouettes que chaque spectateur pourra percevoir différemment, lui aussi en fonction de ses propres émotions.

JMR est un peintre authentique et sincère. Il ne triche pas.
Son travail et sa signature sont désormais reconnaissables parmi pléthore d’artistes d’aujourd’hui qui se bornent à faire du mimétisme sur le dos de leurs prédécesseurs qui eux ont déjà laissé leurs traces.

Christophe Montarras
15 days ago

Nous connaissons bien Jean-Marie chez Garozarts, la galerie marmandaise. Un pur peintre, le monsieur. Quel long chemin ! quelle exigence pour bâtir cette figuration "des premiers temps". Sa peinture me rappelle toujours ce désir de tout reprendre au début, de la figuration élémentaire. Les êtres, l"espace, le geste.

Sébastien Chauzu
16 days ago

Ever since I started following Jean-Marie's work, I've been struck by his perseverance. He's one of those artists who plows his furrow. Whatever medium he chooses to express himself, he strives to explore our animality.

Sebastien de Royere
16 days ago

Une peinture instinctive, vivante, brute. Et incroyablement nuancée. Le rythme et les couleurs sont particulièrement travaillés. Chaque tableau est une présence qui s'impose à nous.

Emmanuel BLANC
16 days ago

Jean Marie has a deep understanding of human being, watching our universe with sensitivity and wiseness. Developing an uncoformism full of joy and mystery.

Never getting bored of admiring his colorful paintings.

16 days ago

L'univers artistique de Jean-Marie fusionne entre l'abstrait et le figuratif. Des silhouettes colorées, singulières, brutes et très expressives . Une vision tolérante du genre humain qui nous bouleverse et nous touche. profondément.
Bravo Jean-Marie

16 days ago

Un très bel article à propos de Jean-Marie Rodrigues artiste pas assez estimé, et qui devrait davantage être exposé , un homme avec un bon cœur et des qualités humaines se raréfiant, une réflexion artistique qui vaut largement le detour

16 days ago

Nous avons eu la grande joie d exposer une partie du travail de Jean-Marie Rodrigue , un moment rare de sens. Des retours enthousiastes, de belles rencontres autour de la lumière et de la couleur..