Al­lan Lamb’s favourite paint­ing

The for­mer English crick­eter is moved by the in­tim­i­dat­ing size, emo­tion and ex­pres­sion of Saint Max­ent by Jean Jansem

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

John Mcewen com­ments on Saint Max­ent

Jean Jansem was born Ohannes se­merd­jian in seuleuze, near Bursa, Turkey, of ar­me­nian par­ents. His father was a silk mer­chant. The ar­me­nian geno­cide forced the fam­ily into Greek, then French ex­ile. In Greece, Ohannes, aged nine, was con­fined to bed for a year. It was then he be­gan to draw. The fam­ily set­tled in Paris, where Ohannes, now Jean, stud­ied art at the academie mont­par­nasse and the ecole des arts Dec­o­rat­ifs.

In­ter­na­tional fame came in the 1950s with muted fig­u­ra­tive pic­tures that re­flected the aus­tere post­war mood. In the late 1960s, his wife opened Ga­lerie matignon in the rue st Honore, prin­ci­pally as an out­let for his prints. It was the first time an artist had been rep­re­sented by his own gallery.

In the print boom of the 1970s, turnover matched the gallery’s un­ri­valled spa­cious­ness to make it the big­gest in France. madame Jansem be­came al­most as fa­mous as her hus­band, who lat­terly was awarded the high­est rank of the Lé­gion d’hon­neur and the Or­dre des arts et des Let­tres, with sim­i­lar awards from ar­me­nia and the sin­gu­lar dis­tinc­tion of two pri­vate Jansem mu­se­ums in Japan.

His son Jany writes of Saint Max­ent: ‘Jansem was al­most 80 and be­gan to be dis­turbed by thoughts of death. He al­ways had a “mys­tic” side but re­al­ism came first. He had to see some­thing in the “raw” to in­spire his imag­i­na­tion. Here you can see the painter “chal­leng­ing” Death. skulls in his art are al­most laugh­ing. my mother used to joke to him: “You will never de­serve Heaven any­way!”’

Ga­lerie matignon has closed in­def­i­nitely and mr Jansem now runs the com­pany by pri­vate ap­point­ment.

Al­lan Lamb is a for­mer Eng­land crick­eter (1982–92)

‘The piece hangs in a friend’s villa in the South of France and catches my eye when­ever I visit, plus my friend knew the painter, Jean, and his wife and still main­tains con­tact with their son Jany, who now runs Ga­lerie Matignon, which spe­cialises in his father’s art. The size of this paint­ing is in­tim­i­dat­ing: the sub­jects have so much mo­tion, ex­pres­sion’ emo­tion and

Saint Max­ent, 1997, by Jean Jansem (1920–2013), 10ft by 7ft, Pri­vate Col­lec­tion

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