The Dutch painter Majo originates from a French mother and a Spanish-Catalonian father.
During the Spanish civil war (1936-1939) Majo’s grandfather is a well-respected officer in the Republican army, which offers resistance against the Nationalists of Franco. Because of grandfather’s participation in the Republican army the entire family is not safe and they have to fear for their lives. This forces Majo’s father to flee from Spain. In his attempt to escape to France he gets caught shortly after crossing the border and he is being deported to a concentration camp in Argeles, nearby Perpignan. He manages to escape and gets aboard a cargo ship to New York. Once he arrives in New York he gets arrested on Elise Island and is sent back to France. For the time being he stays illegally in France until he meets Majo’s mother. At that time she is 17 years old and working on her singing career.
Majo’s father and mother get married and on July 25th 1956 Majo is born in Angers. Even though Majo is born, his mother stays active as a singer. Majo’s father is an amateur painter in his spare time and successfully passes the course ‘Art and Profession’ despite he still has problems with the French language. It is obvious that Majo is being raised in a very artistic family. Even more so because a lot of singers, artists, poets and people who are in show business come and visit on a regular basis. Majo’s artistic qualities already show at the age of 7 as he plays a part in the play ‘Le Marché Percant’. But it is father’s oil paint in combination with seeing father as he is painting that attracts Majo to drawing. Majo will never have any lessons or courses in drawing or painting, it is a natural talent which will grow out to be a passion.
Especially his mother enjoys seeing her son being so creative, but she prefers to see that her son will have a good education so he will have a chance at a better life than she and her husband have. When he is about 15 years of age, Majo and his parents increasingly get into conflict with each other, because Majo wants a career as an artist and his parents are against it. Majo is not interested in school and his grades are not very good. Because he is so frustrated with his life he gets astray even more. At a given point father can’t take Majo’s behavior any longer and forces Majo to go to the Military Academy for non-commissioned officers in Tours. Father’s action already pays off after a year as Majo is appointed non-commissioned officer in the French army. As a reward for his excellent performance the academy offers him the opportunity to have an exhibition in Tours. Majo has his first exhibition at the age of 17 and his art works are futuristic, science fiction like drawings.
Majo’s frustration has only grown bigger while being in the army. This causes him to create a world of his own to which he can escape from his daily life. This also explains the futuristic drawings.
After having served in the army for four years he meets Nicole Gautier, with whom he marries on April 12 1975. Shortly after their wedding their first son Christophe is born on January 13th 1976, followed by their second son Pascal on December 27th 1976. Seven years later on March 27th 1984, their third son Patrice is born.
Brussels: finally a life as an artist
In 1977 Majo and Nicole move with their two children to Brussels. For the first time in his life Majo feels really free and he is finally able to concentrate on his passion. It is here in Brussels where he can experience what the life of an artist is all about and gets a taste of the Montmarte type of atmosphere among the artists and in their studio’s.
In the same year he gets to meet the Belgian artist Roger van Impe. Van Impe inspires him to make the decision that the art of painting will be his life from now on. The life of an artist is not very easy, so Majo agrees to move in with van Impe. For the time being van Impe’s studio, located in the district Elsene, is where Majo will live, eat and work. The poor conditions in which they live often necessitate them to sell their art works in the streets. In this period of time Majo is very much drawn to the impressionistic style of painting, mainly because of the warm colors and the combination of colors. Later on it will become clear that these elements of impressionism are of great influence on his own style, which he will develop thru the years. Majo, who never had a single lesson in drawing in his life, makes himself familiar with the impressionistic style by studying books and paintings from other artists and by experimenting. Renoir en Pissaro, among others, are of great influence on Majo’s work. His technique is divers due to the limited means available. Everything that can be used is being used. Even in this early stage of his artistic calling, Majo is convinced that one day he will be a successful painter. After spending some time in Brussels he feels that this city has nothing more to offer and he decides to leave.
West-Berlin: from impressionism to his own style
His craving for knowledge and desire to extend his horizon lead him to West-Berlin. In this spirit of the times, West-Berlin is the city where it all happens in terms of art and culture. It is here where he hopes to find what he is looking for. Shortly after his arrival the French poet Jean-Yves Doucet introduces him to a group of artists which consists of painters, sculptors, poets and singers from all different nationalities. During the day he is mainly busy painting. In the evenings he regularly gets together with other artists in a bar where poems are being read and political ideas exchanged. On several occasions they paint, draw and write poems on the Berlin wall to leave a sign of their existence and as a protest against the presence of the wall.
Worth mentioning is the following anecdote to emphasize that life in Berlin isn’t always easy. Because of the poor financial conditions once in a while, Majo sells his blood for DM 40,– per donation, just like many other artists do. With this money he can buy the supplies he needs to make more art works. In the beginning of his stay in Berlin, Majo still makes and exhibits impressionistic paintings. After a while, partly due to a German artist he gets to know, Majo realizes that the impressionistic style of painting has too many limitations. The style does not offer him the ability to really express his ideas and feelings. He feels as if he is nothing more than a copier of nature.
For a very short period impressionism has evolved into realism. In this small period of realistic paintings, he exhibits, among other places, at the Kütchmaraplatz. It is already soon clear to Majo that realism does not offer him what he had hoped for. His search for a means that enables him to show what is going on in his head leads him to surrealism. He thinks that this style will make it easier to show his point of view and give him more freedom in terms of theme, use of color and choice of subject. In his surrealistic period, Majo is mostly influenced by Max Ernst, Dali and Jeroen Bosch. In Majo’s opinion, Jeroen Bosch is one of the first surrealistic painters. The influence of Dali is partly due to the fact that Majo’s father is Catalonian.
Majo’s surrealistic period is short as well, because it is also to restraining for him. He feels that he is too free and rebellious to join an already existing style. His craving for freedom and rebellion and the fact that he is ready, lead him to decide to develop his very own style. Deep inside he has always known that he had the potential to develop his own style. But he had to use and experiment with other styles, especially surrealism, to be able to develop it. At the same time he decides to leave West-Berlin, where he had lived, worked and exhibited for five years.
The Netherlands: the freedom of his own style, Majism
He moves to the most liberated country in Europe, The Netherlands. He is convinced that this is the place where he can satisfy his needs. This conviction is the reason why he says ‘au revoir’ to his French nationality and ‘welcome’ to the Dutch. It is here in The Netherlands where he finally has the freedom to further develop his style. The growth process of it is very visible in his paintings. Especially in the beginning there are still surrealistic elements to be found. In time these will decrease.
Et Voila, Majism is born.
Majism is not just a style to Majo it is also a philosophy of life. Central to this philosophy of life and the style is that Majism does not know any taboos. It is very important to Majo that there is no taboo in choosing a subject as well as in making a painting. It is Majo’s opinion that an artist limits himself to much if he sticks to an already existing style, because of which he will never be able to cross is own boundaries and release the best of what is inside of himself. Nine out of ten times Majo gets his inspiration out of his dreams which come from current and daily events. He completes these dreams, which he can’t explain in words, with his imagination. This way he accomplishes that he paints what people can’t see and this is essential to his style. Also a very important aspect of Majo’s style is color. Colour means so much to him that he cannot put it into words. Time after time he is searching for new colors, which is to be seen in his art works. Nowadays Majo’s paintings are made of oil on linen. Every painting has its theme and every detail is of great importance.
Since June 2006 Majo has become a member of the Society for the Art of Imagination.
Today Majo’s paintings are to be found almost everywhere around the world.