There’s a lot of time traveling going on in Jacques de Beaufort’s studio in Lake Worth – surrealism from the 1940s, tribal markings from tribes hundreds of years ago, and real live body painting, an art that may have been the original canvas.
He has a show that opened November 18th at The Box Gallery that includes paintings, drawings, film, performance and artist’s talks.
A skilled, inventive artist, Jacques de Beaufort has been honing his craft for many years, starting at the prestigious CalArts School in California where he discovered he definitely didn’t like conceptual art and was more drawn to Surrealism and the Dali/Dada aesthetic.
“It’s just something I gravitated towards,” Jacque says from his spacious duplex studio in Lake Worth while his sleek black cat cruises up and curls up purring at his feet.
He was by his accounts “almost an art star but things happened in a strange way that made me miss that. Los Angeles is a tough town though I exhibited a lot there. I started resenting advice I was being given by the dealers, and there are so many artists now it’s unreal. The market was in flux and seemed to take a nosedive so I began teaching. I landed a job at the Palm Beach State College so moved here about 6 years ago.”
Jacques de Beaufort didn’t know anyone but soon found his studio and a supportive art community in Lake Worth. He met Rolando Chang Barrero and got into some shows. Within a few years he was named Best Artist in Palm Beach County by the New Times and racked up a slew of favorable press.
“I am not interested in contemporary art,“ he says. “I like old school work and paint and pencils and a traditional sense of painting. It’s a nerve thing with me, it’s just what strikes me. I don’t even really read Art Forum and all those magazines, I’m just not up on it. It’s also a lot of socializing to do. At a certain point you realize you just have to shut it all out and just do the work. I make my paintings to self-actualize. We need to be creating our own scene here and then people will be supportive or not.”
As he began meeting people, he decided to do a series of what he called Man Cave portraits of the artists, musicians and general characters he was meeting in the area. The portraits are first shot as a photo in his studio then painstakingly rendered in pastels and pencil. The men in the cave include Purehoney Magazine’s Steev Rullman, members of reggae band Spred the Dub, and Sage Duvall of Raggy Monster. The number of portraits swelled to over 50, the fun is in recognizing who’s who. He sold about half of them at the last exhibit.
Photo Gallery: some of De Beaufort’s artwork
Another series he’s been working on are his tribal body paintings that fuse classical busts and faces with unexpected tattoos, stripes of color and other distinguishing marks that may originate anywhere from African to Maorican to Native American. They are seductive and beguiling, mysterious and bizarre all at once. He draws them by hand with pastel pencils he shaves with straight razors to expose varying degrees of pigment. It’s a painstaking process, he uses a poolstick wrapped in tape leaned against the wall for balance. The result is a rich, powdery surface, quite unlike anything that can be achieved with acrylic or oil paint. The colors are vibrant but not shiny, deeply shaded and matte in appearance.
“It’s Skin Wars at its most basic. Tribal without a specific affiliation. I really like this medium, the colors are quicker and bolder,” de Beaufort says,” but the only drawback is it smudges really easily and there’s nothing I can spray on it to set the surface without changing the look completely so I don’t. It’s delicate as opposed to oil – you can eat lunch off of oil paint and not affect it at all. It also takes a third of the time to paint and set.”
Jacques de Beaufort will also be showing some very mystical paintings that take major melting cues from Salvador Dali, with faces and figures stretched and contorted in dreamlike ways.
Another component of his work is performance art. His upcoming performance at The Box Gallery is called “Macroaggression: In Blue and Red” where he will spray paint head to toe on male and female nude bodies using a water soluble paint and a large airbrush spray. He shows me the spot in his studio where he does this, a garage room that has outlines of previous painted peoples feet surrounded by paint markings.
“The idea behind this one is ‘Are you the solution or the problem?’ Are you for or against us?’ I’ll have the painted people go out into the audience offering to mark them with a red or blue brush asking these questions. There are no wrong answers and you won’t even really be sure what the question is. Nobody will know what it’s really about. This plays on a lot of levels – two races of people – blue and red, also on this political season and how to question and visualize all that.”
“I’m hoping that some of this work will resonate and affect people and also change the image of this as a resort town into one of a really creative place. It has exploded in the 6 years that I’ve been here. It’s still what I call a ‘trembling scene’, something quaking up but not completely formed. It’s changed really quickly.”