ART IS ABOUT GENEROSITY - Jesus Zamarrón Interview

by Javier Melian, www.chrom-art.org co-founder

Talking about Jesus brings a lot of fond memories of our Uni times in Madrid, as he is an old friend of mine. A bunch of lads studying different disciplines in various universities of the Spanish capital met a group of Californian girls doing exchange years in Madrid, and that was the beginning of countless adventures, shenanigans and non-stop partying combined with hard work and sleepless nights preparing exams. 

Jesus came from a family of doctors, not artists, however his lifestyle had always been soaked with creativity and freedom. I remember visiting his parents villa in the beach front of his natal Almeria. The place was so inspiring, with rustic thick white walls and arches, terracotta tiled floors and that Andalucian light that flooded the entire house. Vivid colours and beautiful smells surrounded you everywhere you looked and breathed. It surprised me from the beginning the amount of art in and around the villa. Even the kitchen was full of oil paintings. Art was there, as the house, to be lived. There was a feeling of an emotional connection that turned those unanimated possessions into somewhat memories that belonged to the house and its heritage.

Jesus personality has always been larger than life, never serious always taking the mickey, half present half lost in the paradises of his mind. There is always something magical and spiritual on his work. Like a trance or a path to a deeper level of consciousness which one could only find in his art. I always admired the intensity of the colours and the violence of his strokes which bear the essence of the Spanish imaginarium whilst serving as an introspective magnifying lens to his universe. 

An eclectic amalgam of styles, he defines himself as a modernist; "I am a contemporary modernist artist. My strokes might suggest that I am an artist from the past, but the elements, and structure of my compositions are fresh, from these times". His paintings are imbued by the raw, intense colours of his native land. Reds, yellows and ochres of the Spanish landscape and spirit. "The stories in my paintings tend to be dark, in a colourful bold way, if that makes any sense". Zamarrón reaches beyond the mundane to alter one’s perception of the world, and make it a more metaphysical art.  An art critic said: “Zamarrón represents the subjects in his paintings with respect, but also these subjects are viewed from a new angle. They prompt the artist to manipulate their forms by entering an unusual conceptual layer. In other words, Zamarrón’s interpretation of the supernatural and the faith that purports it is very, very unique. At once happy and terrifying, dynamic and stale, his traces are reminiscent of the primitivism of a Matisse or a Cézanne. Nobody can deny that a certain flare must be expected of a Spanish artist, but Zamarrón’s theatrics are subdued, his gestures under control, but nonetheless strongly pulsating within the innards of his canvases. In conversation he appears simultaneously aloof and goofy, but in the end his heart is one of gold. This shows in his pictures. They are most heartfelt, they are authentic, generous and completely non-trivial. Like a García Márquez novel, fantasy  is just around the corner for Zamarrón. The world is a miracle waiting to happen. Rather, it is a constant stream of hidden miracles, overlooked by most people, who are too busy to appreciate art, appreciate the muse, the execution of a concept in a magical sense…too busy to really live. Isn’t that sad? That’s what our painter asks himself, or anyone who would listen. Why the need to rush, why the race to nowhere, why the addiction to the electronic mirages that surround all of us? Zamarrón thinks that we should free ourselves from that tyranny, with the help of attainable pleasures: friendships, food, laughter and art.”

Zamarron’s art is, as the person: spontaneous, generous, universal, touching. It belongs to everyone. It’s where life comes alive.


Self taught or art school?

A combination of both would be the right answer. As long as I can remember I have been doodling on paper, trying new things and learning from other artists. When it was time for me to go to college, I had this uncontrollable desire to go to art school, so after doing my initial charcoal drawing exam, and barely passing it, the next five years of my life would be gratefully spent at “La Facul” (La Facultad de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Universidad Complutense de Madrid) from 1989-1994, where I had a great deal of fun, I got to explore my creativity and where I basically became a man. I love and miss with nostalgia this time of my life in college, as these classes and friendships meant a lot, specially with the life changing experiences I had in my early twenties. By spending time with other artists I could relate to them, learn from them and collaborate in some projects. I recommend to go to art school for these reasons, you create a bond with the other students, a comradery  that lasts forever. You learn from your classmates and from the teachers. Even though I haven’t seen many of my old college friends in a while, we have that thing in common (time and place) of that generation that went to “La Facul” in the early nineties, I remember as an eclectic group of artists. In San Francisco I recently finished a Masters in Art Education, and these valuable studies help me on my work as an art educator every day.

What is your favourite artwork?

Any work by David Hockney, who I love because of his freedom and sensibility.  I really like his big painting he did of his parents in 1977. Any work by Turner, Goya, and so many more. I am lucky that I was able to collect already a few art works by artists that I have admired since I was a kid, and still are my art heroes: Ouka Leele, Martin Sampedro, Juan Jose Romero, Carlos Perez Siquier. The last two are from my hometown, and two local favourites of mine. These artists and many others, give me the inspiration to keep creating, and by looking at their works of art, I can relate to my own culture and I get to admire the different ways beauty can be represented, as each artist tell his/her story in his/her own way.  They are pushing always to break art taboos, creating new graphic images without worrying too much about art trends. They create and art that works for them, and that's very unique.  

Where do you enjoy art?

I love going to museums and spending hours there, having a coffee and then, going back to the works that I enjoyed in the first place and trying to find why these pieces tickled me and why do they need more time. There is always something surprising in visiting any museum, galleries too. To tell you the truth I enjoy art, anywhere … even in Vegas of all places. The context makes no difference but it’s true that I enjoy the big walls of a museum although I see museum art now as institutionalized when way back them, I used to just enjoy it without thinking too much of the history behind museum pieces. Some of them have just become a commodity so, that said I appreciate seeing art shows in galleries and other venues where I can still be surprised.


Which fellow artists do you admire?

I enjoy the work of many many artists, I have mentioned David Hockney, Goya, Turner, Morandi, Picasso, etc … I enjoy works of art by my contemporary artists too, like Juan Jose Romero, Ouka Leele, Martin Sampedro, Francisco Uceda, Marcel Garbi, Manu Muñoz, Paco de la Torre, Carlos Perez Siquier, etc etc. I have a sort of "nexo de union" and I feel close to what they are doing daily. In a way their art is part of my identity, and as I live far away their ART brings me closer to my homeland. We all interact in social media, and this way I can enjoy the art that's created in my hometown, my friends Mar Cirugeda & Rodrigo Valero, share their great photos almost daily and make me feel more at home. I enjoy seeing the shows at MECA (Mediterraneo Centro Artistico) that Fernando Barrionuevo curates. At home in San Francisco, I enjoy the art works of Wayne Thiebaud, Andrew Schoultz and many other artists from my favorite galleries here; Park Life & Roll Up Gallery. These artists are also pure and treat their work as poetry, as a game that helps them develop themselves as artists, while giving everyone else (spectators) a sort of lesson in a way of self reflexion. I enjoy artists that educate, they are not just working in a medium to do their art, but that their process teach us something, not only about themselves but also how to create a new better world. I enjoy deconstructing their process, and seeing (if I can) the clues of their art. Art for me is about generosity, you as an artist are giving people part of your heart, if not all. I love artists that give it all, and in that way, they show you how to give it too.


What are your sources of inspiration?

Everything that is alive and kicking inspires me these days, also death does inspire my art, and everything that surrounds it. The Ying and the Yang or the concept of duality forming a whole, inspires my art, as there are examples of Yin and Yang in everyday life and objects, and I try to incorporate them into my paintings. I paint to remember that I exist. Also to get myself lost in something new that makes my time feel worth it, while forgetting about everything…even time. It’s all an exercise where I transfer ideas that go through my head daily, and that I need to put on paper. I think that life is too amazing not to be painted. That’s the big reason that I do paint and what inspires me, not only to reflect the exterior, but what goes within whatever it is that I am painting. What I do feel while living, my experiences. Also I do it to recreate another world that’s inside me and that is somehow related to the outside world. I paint to make people think about themselves, I paint to feel more human. 

Where do you produce your work?

Right now I paint in the basement of my house where I have a nice room with a window and good light, it has four walls of about 10 feet each. When I need more room, I park outside and I use the garage walls next to my studio to work in larger paintings. I also use the space as an art gallery and I participate in San Francisco’s Open Studios

I love painting at night and I think my only ritual is that I have to have a candle lit, there is something almost poetic and musical about candles, the way  its flame dances to the air in the studio.  I can also measure my time spent down there, by the wax left in the candle plate while I am at work or after I am finished painting.

What are your aspirations?

Be happy, make people happy and always be truthful while at it.


To find out more about Zamarrón's work, please visit www.zamarron.com

www.saatchiart.com/zamarron

For purchase enquiries, please contact jesuszamarron@gmail.com or his dealers in the United States: Siovonne Smith Diemer at International Press Relations SmithIPR@gmail.com, and Betty Bigas b.bigas@publicsf.com, and Victoria Pérez  toyaperez@hotmail.com in Spain.

Write a comment

Comments: 3
  • #1

    Curro Perez-Zamarron (Sunday, 25 October 2015 23:12)

    I've enjoyed reading the interview to my brother. Thank you Javier!

  • #2

    Richard E Jorgensen Jr (Monday, 30 May 2016 21:14)

    Where can I find price archives of your past paintings? Interested in Spanish Landscape series from 1970,s and flowers.

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