Jérémie Martino was born in 1980 in Menton, France and grew up near Nice, more precisely in a small town close to Nice called Roquebrune Cap Martin.

Ridge Did you study art before taking up full time as an artist? Where?

Jérémie Absolutely, I’ve got a BFA from Marseille’s art school (ESBAM), then I studied 1 year in Munich (ADBK), and I got my last graduation in Paris art School (ENSBA) two years later.

Ridge When did you come to Berlin?

Jérémie October 9th, 2008.

Ridge Why did you come to Berlin and from where?

Jérémie I arrived from Paris. After graduating I stayed a little while in Paris, but since I’m used to not staying in the same place for too long, I needed some fresh air. Berlin was already at that time “the place to be” for an artist, and I already knew the city a little, it didn’t take long to make up my mind, so I just moved there!

Ridge Which artists do you consider most influential or just admire?

Jérémie First of all I definitely say Manet, the first modern artist, he had such a virtuosity, accuracy, with a deep respect for the old masters. Then comes another French artist who’s not really well known outside of France, Gérard Gasiorowski. I do really admire his work, he unfortunately died too young to really accomplish his whole “oeuvre”, but what he left is just fantastic, strong, hallucinating with a huge smart sense of humor.

Ridge What motivates you to come into the studio each day?

Jérémie The only fact of painting is already something so strong, intense, vibrant and enjoyable that, to be honest with you, I don’t really need another reason.

Ridge Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

Jeremie I have no clue as long as it’s a place where I can paint it will be just fine… ok I admit I’d rather be in a sunny place.

Ridge What is your favorite part of Berlin and why?

Jérémie Obviously the space, if you compare it to cities like Paris, London or even Marseille which are very packed, Berlin looks empty. You can walk in peace without bumping into anyone, which means that you have way less daily stress. Therefore people in general are more relaxed and somehow more open to others. You can easily talk to anyone without preconceptions, and share. For many artists it’s a great situation, you have space, human contact, and peace, which is just perfect for working. And of course Berlin is full of amazing artists, it’s very nourishing indeed.

Ridge You grew up in Nice. The Côte d’Azur is one of the most beautiful places in Europe and has influenced many artists and painters. Did it influence you as an artist in any way?

Jérémie I have to say not really in fact; when I was younger I was not really paying attention to what had been done before the second half of the 20th century, which is pretty stupid I know . Even the contemporaries of the Côte d’Azur scene did not attract me. The thing is I was a graffiti artist, this is how I got involved into the art world. I was more influenced by anything which would be loose and spontaneous. Today it’s very different, art history and specifically the 19th century to the first part of the 20th influences me much more. But I wouldn’t summon Picasso; he’d be the father that you can’t kill. I think Cézanne has been more important in my painting comprehension.

Ridge Why do you think the art scene on the Cote d'Azur has declined since its heyday when Picasso and others lived and worked in Provence?

Jérémie I think this problem is very French in general. First of all the major problem is that every decade few people exhume Duschamp, and some new theoretical points of view which are basically saying that you can’t paint anymore, it’s useless anyway because everything has already been done. The funny part of it is those people won’t say that Kippenberger shouldn’t have painted, neither Gerhard Richter nor any other non-French painter. The result of that fact is very simple. Any young art student with a genuine talent won’t be allowed to paint without having a whole concept that explains everything. This simply kills the real research and pleasure of making. In addition to that, since the 80’s the government has founded all over the country big and small art centers with the mission to show and buy a maximum amount of works, which is a good thing apart from the fact that it produces as well a lot of self-satisfied artists since they show and sell enough to make a decent living out of it. Evidently I know that it’s a reduced analysis of the whole system, but the consequences are also simple: we haven’t seen a new Matisse in the past century.

Ridge What do you feel most passionate about?

Jérémie Going to the studio and not knowing how to solve the problems I’m facing with the painting I’m working on! Because there’s always a solution, once you have it the satisfaction you get has no comparison. Even though you don’t always find good answers…

Ridge You have been working on two quite different themes in your paintings — large figures and explosions. Is there any link between the two themes in your mind?

Jérémie There’s not a proper link between the two, I’m trying to explore painting as deeply as I can by making. When I do these large figures I’m confronting a different part of art history and I find that extremely nourishing and captivating. Making today a large simple portrait is quite hard, my French side would tell me that after Rembrandt, or the portrait of the pope Innocent X from Velasquez, we can’t do anything better, it’s probably the case, but it’s worth trying with absolutely no pretention of success. The explosions are more a personal thing, a matter of an expressive need to free energy, the stakes are different; how to make a coherent, consistent, loose painting without being hysterical, speaking of which I find the figures much more hysterical in their restrained pose, their restrained violence.

Ridge If you could work from a studio anywhere else in the world where would it be and why?

Jérémie I think I’d like to go back to the Côte d’Azur, mainly for two reasons, the mild/warm climate and the light which is incomparable to any other place in Europe. Unfortunately as said before the art scene is too poor at the moment, who knows maybe in 20 years it will be different.