SUN SENTINEL & CHICAGO TRIBUNE on 09/10/2009
Former pharmacist discovers the chemistry of art
Peek into the Lighthouse Point garage of Jean Claude Boutrouille and it's like stepping into a studio. Walls and easels are stacked with paintings drying, canvases being primed or stored. Paint-covered saw horses support even more canvases, and every surface is encrusted in textured oil paint.
But Boutrouille is as new to the discipline as he is to Lighthouse Point. Born in Orleans, 50 minutes south of Paris, the pragmatic painter spent a productive career as a pharmacist in France, then Martinique. His soul, however, belonged to art and his heart to America. He filled his house with original art by friends. He devoured books about famous artists. He studied their technique and their philosophies. In 1990, he moved to Charleston, S.C., and in 1998, he and wife Jacqueline, now a psychiatrist, became citizens.
Jacqueline worked as an addiction counselor and Boutrouille handled the billing and accounting for his wife's practice. He continued to buy and sell art, but it wasn't until the bombing of the World Trade Center that he became an artist himself not just because he felt the pain, but because the event eviscerated the stock market and art market.
"I knew that was the end of collecting, and I decided to paint," he said. "And it was one way to understand what painters were really doing."
His quest for understanding has taken Boutrouille on some interesting journeys. Hanging in his living room is a self-portrait in black oil on canvas by Pablo Picasso as a young man. Hanging adjacent to it is Boutrouille's very credible version of himself in the same style. "It's a joke," he explains.
He gave paintings to friends, to relatives, to professional offices. Five years after he began painting, he finally started to be happy with the results. His friends also were impressed.
Chef Jean-Pierre Brehier's restaurant, The Left Bank, in Fort Lauderdale, was as famous for its art as its menu. Today, Brehier runs Chef Jean-Pierre Cooking School on Federal Highway. In his school are two of Boutrouille's paintings. "People are interested," he said. "They look nice."
In June 2008, Boutrouille discovered the Internet, and another world. "I've had 5,835 page hits in seven days. That's pretty good," he said. "I am an emerging artist. As a painter, I think I start to be good."
Others think so. Boutrouille in November will be one of four painters with 10 paintings on exhibit featured at Marziart International Gallery in Hamburg, Germany.
Still, he doesn't take himself too seriously. Among the 99 media listed on his website are neons, tattoos and furniture.
"I have decided to drink a lot, take drugs and die famous," he said. "Then the prices will go up."
Visit www.absolute arts.com /jboutrouil or www.jeanClaudeArts.com
Copyright © 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
February 2011 in Lighthouse Point Magazine.
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Jean Claude Boutrille - Artist
Upon entering the home of Lighthouse Point landscape artist Jean Claude Boutrouille, you can tell an abstractionist lives here. Of course, there's the artwork by local artists hes collected from his worldwide travels expertly displayed on various walls throughout the home, the bright bold colors of the walls, the Ecuadorian rug designed to look like a painting based on the bold colors that this man wholeheartedly appreciates, but it's seeing Steve Martin's novel, "An Object of Beauty," a tale set in the Manhattan art world, halfway read through that's sitting on his coffee table that makes one realize the depth of his devotion to his chosen discipline. He immerses himself in it; he's part of it and possesses the talent to become a great historical presence in it.
His home is always filled with music, whether its jazz riffs sifting through the air or selections from his favorite classical musician Johannes Brahms and the music does have an inspiring effect on his work.
Music plays in this house twenty-four hours a day,
Boutroille said. Maybe the jazz and classical music does subconsciously influence my work because anything is
possible. Improvisational jazz is like abstract art. Particularly when I start a painting I have a few ideas for creating a certain type of landscape, but I have to see the result. In this way my work is completely abstract like in jazz where you start without any hesitation. Sometimes I feel its ready but Im not sure, so if I work three or five more hours on it and find if this is true then I have to
discard it. Theres no question when you have to start over.
The mans work is stirring and its hard to believe he has to discard any of it. But just like his idol, Pablo Picasso, who was apt to discard his own work if he was dissatisfied with it, the student follows in the teachers footsteps. The resemblance between these two artists doesnt stop here. Theyve each cultivated a highly intuitive use of the
abstract with a need to paint.
In Boutrouilles office, his self-portrait in black oil on canvas titled "Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man" is
displayed on the left side of his desk and his portrait of Picasso that has he has titled "Pablo Picasso Young" is on the right. I have no formal training and I wanted to know if I could do a portrait. I did these two at the same time, he explained. I think I started my self-portrait first. As a joke I thought Id look like Picasso in it. In fact, he does and the resemblance is uncanny. This portrait of Picasso is based on the one that he did of himself probably in 1922, he continued. I did the portrait of myself in the same pose with the same style and color.
Ive always been interested in art. Art is the meaning of my life. I dont watch TV, go to games, or read best-sellers, Boutroille said. When I lived in Paris in the sixties, it was a very nurturing time, he reminisced. I had a very good teacher in high school who taught me about artists like Renoir. Im not someone who likes museums. Theyre too big for me as Im sort of a recluse. I prefer to see the painter or to see a painting at a gallery.
Boutroille was born in Orleans, France, a location with an oceanic climate which is fifty minutes south of Paris, attended high School at
Lycee Pothier and later attended the Faculte de Pharmacie de Paris. I spent two years in the French-Algerian War and was about twenty-six when I became a pharmacist and began collecting a little bit. I didnt have a lot of money and for a small fee I could purchase an etching at best. At that time I didnt know that I had the ability to paint.
After becoming a pharmacist and working as one in Orleans you could say he lived a bit of a nomadic lifestyle. Ive lived in the French Riviera, I worked two years in Cannes, I was a pharmacist for a time in the West Indies and moved to Martinique because it was too expensive to buy a pharmacy in France, and I stayed almost twenty years, he said. My wife Jacqueline was family physician in Fort de France where our daughter Benedicte was born.
It was an employment opportunity for his wife, who was now a psychiatrist that brought Boutroille and his family to America. In 1990 we moved to Charleston, S.C. which is a beautiful city and a nice place for the education of our daughter, he explained. We became proud U.S. citizens in 1998 and a job offer in Coral Springs brought us to Florida. We wanted to live near the water and discovered the serene beauty of Lighthouse Point. My motto is always live south and near the seaside.
He thought living in S.C. was south enough, but he wanted to be in a much warmer climate, but at this point his venture into a new livelihood had begun. I started painting around 2000 while I was living in Charleston. I was investing
in the stock market and was told that it would be more difficult to buy at this time so I decided that Id have to do something myself. I worked part time handling paperwork for my wife and in the afternoon Id have time to paint.
This self-taught artist is a man of few words, and whose work transcends language. Hes had his work on display in numerous galleries, and six of his large format pieces called Canned Oxygen will be on exhibit at the Icosahedron Gallery in NYC in the heart of SOHO next month. For information on where you can find his work in Florida and more, go to these websites: absolutearts.com