Turning feelings into art
– September 14, 2023 | Text Beatriz Maio | Photos Charlotte Cockayne/Open Media Group
Born in the UK, Jérome Gay came to live in the Algarve as a child with his English mother and Spanish father, where he grew up, made friends, and acquired a taste for the country. From an early age, he had a connection with the arts as his family had several paintings at home which, together with his good grades at school in this area, made him realise that his professional path was inevitably through the arts.
At the age of 18, he decided to study at the Winchester School of Art – University of Southampton, in Winchester, England, where he specialised in Sculpture because the cultural offer in the Algarve region was weak. After two years, he moved to Salamanca, Spain, where he studied Fine Arts for a year and a half. Whilst the first course was more focused on contemporary art, the second allowed him to learn more classical drawing techniques.
When Jérome returned to Portugal, he took a Ceramics course which he considers to be “a middle ground between painting and sculpture” and which brought him new opportunities. From there, he started working with tiles and opened a studio where everyone could see his work. The orders started coming in, more for ceramic pieces, like plates, but also tile panels for kitchens and outdoor living spaces, including swimming pools. “I was painting in blocks of colour on large panels in a very contemporary way that had not yet been seen in the Algarve,” he recalled.
His professional success has not only brought him many job offers but has also allowed him to take his work to another level: to dedicate himself to move toward spontaneous ideas, “works that are not so commercial”, he explained. His most recent endeavours are Joker, The Queen, and Juggler, three unplanned alter ego characters, and he already has buyers for two of them. “Now I can allow myself to explore without worrying about the commercial side,” he clarified adding: “That’s where the best begins.”
His works are social statements, with a bit of a quirky side and twisted vision, that expose the observations he makes, a reflection of his thoughts, inspired by what he feels daily.
“Art is a fight with yourself, a moment when you confront yourself and try to put your ego aside,” according to Jérome, who admires French artists like Henri Matisse, Jack Mathieu, and the American Jean-Michel Basquiat.
He defines himself as an “unpredictable” artist who, in his own words, is able to create both abstract and concrete works, more conventional or spontaneous.
“One idea provokes four and four provoke another 16, so I try to let the message emerge,” he reflected mentioning that “unforeseen events are marvellous”.
In addition to the intention of “bringing out the truth” in his unique artworks, he aims to show “the real side” of life through paintings on recycled material with acrylic paint, spray, brushstrokes, and a combination of techniques that produce rich textures. “I want to create images that people can identify with and that can transform what we have in our minds into something physical,” he said, emphasising that he wants to “expose what we all think”.
His ideology is based on the message of The Little Prince’s book: “If it is beautiful, it is truly useful.” In his viewpoint, aesthetic language proves that “beauty has immense utility” and serves to seek what artists think is visual balance.
With everything going positively and feeling that his art is appreciated by all ages, Jérome opened Déjà Vu, in Ferragudo, an art shop dedicated to designing crafts, antiques, vintage pieces, and products made in Portugal.
Although it started out as an art gallery, with the intention of exhibiting his and other artist’s works, it ended up being a space where decorative items and textiles are sold, giving way to the ideas of different people who have become his friends. “There are artists who have been exhibiting here for more than 10 years and, at the same time, there are also new ones coming regularly with singular projects,” he said.
Going forward, the plan is to “rip it up and start again, a new and completely different start”, Jérome revealed, highlighting that now there will be a “free road” ahead, in which he will be free and have time to do whatever he feels like. “Being an artist requires an evolution of ideas that creates fluidity in the work, and, for that, constant dedication is necessary.”
Jérome is looking forward to it and recognises that he has the “right age and maturity” to choose how he wants to spend his time to dedicate himself to his essence. “I was painting to please my clients, now I will stop painting for others and do it for me, exploring new projects,” he stated.