Jean Pronovost was born in Quebec City in 1976, and has lived and worked in Montreal for the past 20 years. He is a self-taught, versatile fine art painter and sculptor; a multidisciplinary artist who is skilled in all types of paint, materials, and scale. Gathering inspiration from ancient mythology and old civilization, Jean generates profound and timeless allegories through figures and landscapes that motivate deep self-reflection and contemplation. Each piece he creates weaves intricate layers of symbolism, striking beauty, an imaginative fusion of the real and fantastical, and a good dose of wit and dark humour.
As the eldest son of two university professors – of a philosopher and art historian – Jean was raised in an environment imbued in classical ideas and aesthetic creativity. He meandered through the MET while still preparing to enter into this world, and it still remains a place where he feels happy and at peace. His mother encouraged Jean to express himself creatively from the very first year of his life. She shared his drawings with her students to illustrate the concepts of automatism and naïve art. They could easily be called his first commissioned pieces, albeit unpaid, and the first steps in a lifelong trajectory of an artistic destiny.
Jean’s breathtaking airbrushing skills have helped bring to life stories and atmospheres in Cirque du Soleil, Celine Dion’s Las Vegas show, and Denis Villeneuve’s short film Next Floor (2008). His work for stage and film productions has included creating special effects, scene props, and designing and executing entire sets and environments. His international reputation as a highly skilled airbrush artist has earned him guest invitations to events like Switzerland’s Airbrush Magic and sponsorship with Iwata – a premier worldwide airbrush brand. This partnership with Iwata has led to appearances on the PBS show Art Express and several other TV programs. His professional resume includes teaching courses and conducting workshops in airbrushing. Jean has also provided a multitude of innovative airbrush services for indoor and outdoor murals, art installations, and customized motor vehicles.
The list of artists, writers, genres, and civilizations that have influenced him is extensive, cross-cultural, and continues to grow. Admittedly, his most profound inspiration resides in works from ancient culture, where the creative impulse was stirred by gods or nature – not lucre and glory – when it was common practice for artists not sign their work. The surviving art temples of ancient civilizations, such as those of the Mesopotamian, Incan, Mayan, Greek, and Egyptian peoples, reveal to us extremely rich cultures filled with profound meanings, powerful symbols, and amazing technological innovations. These arts are still alive, and have a great deal to teach us if we can learn how to unlock their mysteries.
Jean’s art synthesizes elements from a variety of different styles, including neo-symbolism, surrealism, and visionary art. In the ways his creations blend a manifold of different genres and techniques, he defies standard categories of decorative, abstract, or simply figurative art. Aesthetically he dwells outside the box; his work surpasses restrictive labels and definitions because, as a maverick, his creativity is guided by his own reasoning and adheres to his own rules. But this does not imply a distancing from contemporary culture. On the contrary, this abode offers him an insightful vantage point from which to speak aesthetically. Through the vision of allegorical wisdom, his art brings us to discover new places within ourselves. Jean’s creations unveil a universe steeped in mythology and mystical symbolism. With the stroke of a paintbrush, he reintroduces us to an Inca legend, or brings us face-to-face with the Sphynx, or transports us to the center of the urban jungle. With a strike of a spatula, he reanimates a God or Goddess long faded from our memories and beliefs. He reminds us of the magic and awe we can experience in our modern, humdrum existence. With a skillful blending of anachronisms and ancient pictorial techniques, Jean affords us opportunities to contemplate and decrypt the many details that subtly illustrate his allegorical vision of the world. In his paintings and sculptures, he finds the harmonious balance of delicate touches of color and the richness of shape and texture, that give depth to contemporary life scenes and ancient metaphors. Through striking fantastic realism, his paintings and sculptures unveil a world where the signs of yesterday interact with our modern world and inspire new dialogues with the past. As elegy of the essential and critique of all false values, Jean’s work opens the door to an alternative universe.