Jaybo Monk

About the Artist:

‘I have never started, neither stopped to be an artist’ Text By Maic Oudejans

He ran away from his home in France at age fourteen, was homeless for five years and has lived in Africa and Sweden before settling down in Berlin in the eighties. His teenage decisions have caused him to live a raw but honest life, which shaped his perception and view on the world. He’s an artist by accident and you could call him a philosopher too. His name is Jaybo Monk: An internationally renowned artist, praised for his surreal paintings and innovative use of everyday objects. We interviewed him about his life, his views on the world and his art.

Jaybo Monk is a man with a distinct vision on the world and life. His ideas about symmetry as a cause of inequality are a great example of this. But before he became the man he is now, he learns life the hard way. Art was and still is his escape and the red thread running through it all. His first encounter with art is when his grandfather takes him to the prehistoric cave drawings in Lascaux, France: “The pictures painted on the cavern walls are still burned in my mind. I guess I later started to draw because of it, but that‘s a speculation. “Although it awakens something inside the young French man, there isn’t one particular moment he knows he wants to be an artist. In fact, he still doesn’t consider himself an artist: “I never started neither stopped to be an artist. Drawing in my childhood was a form of freedom from the farm work. I could meditate through it, which meant I could stop my thinking process with it. Francis Bacon once said that you are not born an artist but through different circumstances you‘ll become one. What makes you an artist is the stamina to observe and question your world. Art is a spark moment which comes and goes and so is the artist. “, Jaybo explains.

Things take a sharp turn at age fourteen. The young Frenchman makes a rigorous decision to ‘quit his family’ and becomes a ‘runaway’ kid: “A runaway is a minor or a person under an arbitrary age, who has left their parents or legal guardian without permission. It is an art of rebellion mixed with pride and a stubborn attitude “, Jaybo says. The reasons for why he leaves his family are personal to him, but he does say it ignited his creativity: “Creativity never comes from comfort, but always as an emergency. Only in that kind of background you‘ll find creativity. Other people are just reproducers of idea‘s that have been made prior. By running away, I have managed to find genuine answers, far from the things establishment tells you to do.”Creativity never comes from comfort, it comes from emergency’.