An Interview with Jaune

Posted on January 19, 2017

“I'm so happy! You find my website in the immensity of the internet.
It means that you are a clever person.
Anyway... here is my universe, I know it is boring to read, so I let the image do the speaking.
Have fun and don't forget to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day.

Cordially.
Jaune.”

- Jaune's welcome on his website- 

 At my first meeting with Jaune, in art gallery Vroom &Varossieau, we did not speak. Not that he did not want to, this man is always in for a good conversation. But because I noticed he was so busy with painting a big wall in the gallery, I would have felt stupid to interrupt him.

During our second meeting, creating his art in bar de Bajes, the moment to have a conversation with the talented man fits better. The story from the urban interventionist (his own words) and his work are quite an interesting one.

Jonathan Pauwels (Jaune) is a stencil artist from Brussels, Belgium. His work is based on the paradox between the visible and the invisible. Subject of his stories are the sanitation workers. This idea is born while Jaune was a sanitation worker himself.

Despite performing an important public service in fluorescent clothing, he has observed that they exist in the background of our urban environment. In Jaune’s opinion so much in the background, that these hard workers are becoming almost invisible to the average person.

2011 marks the moment at which Jaune started to ‘free’ these characters from their invisible role, by symbolically placing them in ever more absurd scenarios in and around the city streets. In his own words:

“Those who were supposed to keep the world tidy have become harbingers of chaos.”

When this explanation of Jaune’s work is in introduction for you, and you are thinking about art that is deadly serious: you are wrong. Both his installations and paintings are filled with humor. The longer you have a look at his works, the more details you will see. Every character is in action in a created chaos, which refers in a symbolic way to our modern society. But within the chaos, there are always some characters which remind us to enjoy life: the sanitation workers. With the way they are posed, quotes they are using and things they are doing, they remind us that our environment is not a given one. It’s clean because somebody cleans it, it’s functional due to a group of workers we seem to ignore.

If Jaune is showing something with his work, it is that you can turn negative experiences and feelings into something positive. Because of his creativity, he is able to make the workers visible, emphasizes their importance and asks for higher awareness about social and environmental policies on both local and global levels.

When I ask him about his definition of creativity, Jaune is defining it with these words:

“ Creativity is to reinvent something. Creativity is to create, with the tools you have, but also with the tools you do not have. Inspiration sources for me are daily life and the media. We are aware of everything around the world, with borders that are disappearing. For me, with creating and being creative, it is my job to make something beautiful out of something dirty. Making the best out of the worst can be seen as creativity as well.”
Text: Mike Warrink / Capturing Creativity
Photography: Henk Warrink / NCO Photography