The painter and the sea


If one had to pick up one word to define Jean-Claude VIOLA, that would definitely be the sea, far from which he nver stayed.
The sea saw him bore in Hammam-Lif, Tunisia in February 1945. The sea saw him grow up and leave the nest and was there during all the important parts of his life in Hammam-Lif, Marseilles, Brest and La Clisse.
Since he settled in Charente-Maritime he still draws his inspairation from the sea.
When he was a boy in Tunisia, he used to draw, and paint and decorate wooden pieces of furniture. At school, teachers had remarked he was talented.
His parents didn't quite encourage him to carry on at the time, neither did he try to.

He was not fond of school, and as he lived in Marseilles, he practised varied and definitely non artistic jobs :  joiner, electrician, coiler, electrical domestic appliance repairman. But he already went around with painters, excercising their talents for tourists on the old pier in Marseilles. Being fed up with everyday life, he decided to live and be hired in Libreville in Equitorial Guinea. He was not successful, he was not old enourgh and lacked experience.

Back to Marseilles he had the opportunity he was longing for when in 1969, he was hired to work on primary switching centres all around France and even abroad. He stayed in Beuruth (Liban), a very important experience for him. He travelled during twelve years, living seven years in a caravan. He took a lot of pictures of landscapes and painted a little at the time.

In 1981, he settled in Ploudalmezeau near Brest and set up and ran his first shoe shop, developped his activity and set up two more.  He worked a lot during this period and painted his first canvases.
A few years later, he felt that this activity was taking too much time, so he decided to change jobs once more and sold his shops.

He trained in varied restaurants and then decided to leave Brittany and settle in Charente-Maritime. 
In 1993 he set up a pancake shop in La Clisse (Charente-Maritime) as well as a bread and breakfast and rest-house. He was still fond of painting at the time and exhbited his canvases in his restaurant to decorate the walls.
Customers started to buy his paintings and he encountered a group of painters with whom he improved his skills and technique.

He sold so many pieces of art that he started paintng after the restaurant closing time late at night, sometimes until two or three o'clock in the morning. Then he hung up his canvases and sold them before they had time to dry. He produced a lot of paintings at the time. It triggered something in his mind : he was going to be a full-time painter.

Once more, he sold everything and settled as a painter. Tourists boughts his pieces of art on night and day markets. He organized diverse exhibitions and showed his paintings in art galeries at summer time.

He moved flats three more times before he found the dream location for excercising his talents.
He bought a former secondhand shop along a road and transformed it into both an exhibition room and an artist's studio facing south.

Nowadays, Jean-Claude VIOLA is discreet but he is lucky enough to make a living out of his art. To paint his samll and bigger canvases he travels along Charente-Maritime and Brittany and draws his inspiration from the landscpaes he admires when he travels in France, Spain and Morocco in his motor-caravan.

His paintings represent ports, seasides, markets, villages, the countryside, lighthouses and nudes. When the weather is nice, he goes on-site either drawing or taking peictures on the spot and always finishing up his paintings in his studio, often at night.

Jean-Claude VIOLA's technique is especially based on oil and knife tool and he uses a lot of matter which gives him the feeling he is sculpting and gives his pieces of art depth.
The pangs he used to feel when he saw a painting living his studio bought by a french, english, dutch, italian, swiss or german visitor are long gone.

When he starts working on a painitinig his only motivations are to see it evolve and to improve his art.

If you ever come to Charente-Maritime and come past a small pink bike hung along the road, don't hesitate, here you are. Jean-Claude VIOLA will be pleased to welcome you provided you've arranged to meet him.