My career as an craftsman painter
G.D. in class by P.J. Chaffrey
I was born in Marocco in 1954. From childhood drawing became my passion. As early as infant school in an experimental school in Ardèche, I took part in a children's craftworks exhibition in Budapest thanks to my school teacher's insight.
All through my school years it became more and more obvious for my family circle that long academic would never be my cup of tea.
Whereas drawing was my permanent preoccupation. My class fellows as well as my teachers were my favourite models. Pencil drawing was my first approach to what was to become my job later- that is to say painting.
At 16 my meeting Pierre-Jean Chaffrey was the deciding factor: I would be a painter!
Little did I suspect he would become my master for 26 years.
Pierre-Jean in Lyon in 1971
For many years, at first irregularly because the distance between us, his advice was but punctual. As in 1978 he settled in Lyon his advice became more frequent. As soon as I had some freetime I went to see him with my drawings, pastels, sometimes with an oil picture which he was willing to comment on or to correct with his own hand sometimes.
Charcoal GD and PJC 1980
I became a regular of the Galerie de l'Olympe which opened up Rue Auguste Comte in the antique dealer's district. I am part of all the first viewing, as I help PJ Chaffrey to hang the new paintings, for hours I watched him paint at his easel in his studio in the vicinity of Lyon.
In 1981, on his advice it was my turn to open my own gallery situated in Rue Auguste Comte, near his own, the gallery Le Pinceau Ivre (the drunken brush), exhibited my work as well as that of other regional and national painters. The best known being Henry d'Anty. The experience was extremely fruitful but then I became aware that I had no more time to paint. All the more so as I praticed my painting together with my trade of that time is to say "bank executive".
I had to bring my self to abandon that gallery so as to go back to my brushes and easel.
In 1984 together with some painter, photographer and writer friends I opened " le Visionnaire" (the visionary). It was a studio in wich exhibitions regulary took place and where we happily " recreated the world around us", this friendly circle still exists and our evenings from then on have often turned into old veteran's and grand-dads' reunions! Some make a living of their art, others keep up their passion.
Jean Louis, Paco, Bernard, Renaud, Didier, Hervé, Le Visionnaire, my friends, my family
In 1986, Pierre-Jean Chaffrey opened his painting academy and I naturally became his assistant, I was present at every lesson in wich I could participate. Painting became then not so much as passtime as a full time activity. I had been exhibiting in galleries my work for 10 years then, I met G'ys Mick a friend of Jean Marais' who was a notorius photographer of celebrities and showbusiness people. He was surprised to learn I knew the famous actor and knowing the portrait I had made of him, he was interested in my paintings and decided to promote them.
In august 1989, I left the bank for wich I had been workling for 16 years and gained the qualification of " artist painter".
For many years my art previews were enlightened by the coming of La Baronne de Rothschild, Enrico Macias, Charles Aznavour, Michou, Christian Marin and many other showbusiness people.
Hôtel Mont Blanc, Mégève, 1991
Michou, Christian Marin, galerie Cérès, Mougins, 1990
My friendship with PJ Chaffrey was strongest and I had to make up my mind and decided on exhibiting only with the Galerie de l'Olympe my activity there in lesson became permanent from 1989. My training as an craftsman painter by the master lasted until 1997 when PJ Chaffrey became aware that from then on I should " take to the wing". I opened my own painting academy with his good whishes of success.
My spiritual father died durin the night on june 15th 1999 and left us- the members of his academy and I- "the exhiles"- masterless.
His major work is his academy which now remains one of the last studios where the fundamental rules of the traditional language of oil painting are taught.
As to me I have become the simple conveyer of his teaching within my own academy. On my part I am doing my best to remain faithful to his memory. As Pierre Jean Chaffrey was our light bearer, with time flying I am becoming the guide over the ford, the one who spports his students trough bumpy periods who helps them to cross over where they are still in their depth and overcome the pitfalls scottered along the lengthy apprenticeship of such a rich language Painting is.