In the beginning
The well-known Dutch painter Majo originates from a French
mother and a Spanish-Catalonian father.
During the Spanish civil war (1936-1939) Majo’s grandfather
is a well respected officer in the Republican army, which
offers resistance against the Nationalists of Franco. Because
of grandfather’s participation in the Republican army
the entire family is not safe and they have to fear for their
lives. This forces Majo’s father to flee from Spain.
In his attempt to escape to France he gets caught shortly
after crossing the border and he is being deported to a concentration
camp in Argeles, nearby Perpignan. He manages to escape and
gets aboard a cargo ship to New York. Once he arrives in New
York he gets arrested on Elise Island and is sent back to
France. For the time being he stays illegally in France until
he meets Majo’s mother. At that time she is 17 years
old and working on her singing career.
Majo’s father and mother get married and on July 25th, 1956
Majo is born in Angers. Even though Majo is born, his mother
stays active as a singer. Majo’s father is an amateur
painter in his spare time and successfully passes the course
‘Art and Profession’ despite he still has problems
with the French language. It is obvious that Majo is being
raised in a very artistic family. Even more so because a lot
of singers, artists, poets and people who are in show business
come and visit on a regular basis. Majo’s artistic qualities
already show at the age of 7 as he plays a part in the play
‘Le Marché Percant’. But it is father’s
oil paint in combination with seeing father as he is painting
that attracts Majo to drawing. Majo will never have any lessons
or courses in drawing or painting, it is a natural talent
which will grow out to be a passion.
Especially his mother enjoys seeing her son being so creative,
but she prefers to see that her son will have a good education
so he will have a chance at a better life than she and her
husband have. When he is about 15 years of age, Majo and his
parents increasingly get into conflict with each other, because
Majo wants a career as an artist and his parents are against
it. Majo is not interested in school and his grades are not
very good. Because he is so frustrated with his life he gets
astray even more. At a given point father can’t take
Majo’s behaviour any longer and forces Majo to go to
theMilitaryAcademyfor non-commissioned officers inTours. Father’s
action already pays off after a year as Majo is appointed
non-commissioned officer in the French army. As a reward for
his excellent performance the
academy offers him the opportunity to have an exhibition inTours.
Majo has his first exhibition at the age of 17 and his art
works are futuristic, science fiction like drawings.
Majo’s frustration has only grown bigger while being
in the army. This causes him to create a world of his own
to which he can escape from his daily life. This also explains
the futuristic drawings.
After having served in the army for four years he meets Nicole
Gautier, with whom he marries onApril 12 1975. Shortly after
their wedding their first son Christophe is born onJanuary
13th 1976, followed by their second son Pascal onDecember
27th 1976. Seven years later onMarch 27th 1984, their third
son Patrice is born.
Brussels: finally a life as an artist
In 1977 Majo and Nicole move with their two children toBrussels.
For the first time in his life Majo feels really free and
he is finally able to concentrate on his passion. It is here
inBrusselswhere he can experience what the life of an artist
is all about and gets a taste of the Montmarte type of atmosphere
among the artists and in their studio’s.
In the same year he gets to meet the Belgian artist Roger
van Impe. Van Impe inspires him to make the decision that
the art of painting will be his life from now on. The life
of an artist is not very easy, so Majo agrees to move in with
van Impe. For the time being van Impe’s studio, located
in the district Elsene, is where Majo will live, eat and work.
The poor conditions in which they live often necessitate them
to sell their art works in the streets. In this period of
time Majo is very much drawn to the impressionistic style
of painting, mainly because of the warm colours and the combination
of colours. Later on it will become clear that these elements
of impressionism are of great influence on his own style,
which he will develop thru the years. Majo, who never had
a single lesson in drawing in his life, makes himself familiar
with the impressionistic style by studying books and paintings
from other artists and by experimenting. Renoir en Pissaro,
among others, are of great influence on Majo’s work.
His technique is divers due to the limited means available.
Everything that can be used is being used. Even in this early
stage of his artistic calling, Majo is convinced that one
day he will be a successful painter.
After spending some time inBrusselshe feels that this city
has nothing more to offer and he decides to leave.
West-Berlin: from impressionism to his own style
His craving for knowledge and desire to extend his horizon
lead him to West-Berlin. In this spirit of the times, West-Berlin
is the city where it all happens in terms of art and culture.
It is here where he hopes to find what he is looking for.
Shortly after his arrival the French poet Jean-Yves Doucet
introduces him to a group of artists which consists of painters,
sculptors, poets and singers from all different nationalities.
During the day he is mainly busy painting. In the evenings
he regularly gets together with other artists in a bar where
poems are being read and political ideas exchanged. On several
occasions they paint, draw and write poems on theBerlinwall
to leave a sign of their existence and as a protest against
the presence of the wall.
Worth mentioning is the following anecdote to emphasize that
life inBerlinisn’t always easy. Because of the poor
financial conditions once in a while, Majo sells his blood
for DM 40,-- per donation, just like many other artists do.
With this money he can buy the supplies he needs to make more
In the beginning of his stay inBerlin, Majo still makes and
exhibits impressionistic paintings.
After a while, partly due to a German artist he gets to know,
Majo realises that the impressionistic style of painting has
too many limitations. The style does not offer him the ability
to really express his ideas and feelings. He feels as if he
is nothing more than a copier of nature.
For a very short period impressionism has evolved into realism.
In this small period of realistic paintings, he exhibits,
among other places, at the Kütchmaraplatz. It is already
soon clear to Majo that realism does not offer him what he
had hoped for. His search for a means that enables him to
show what is going on in his head leads him to surrealism.
He thinks that this style will make it easier to show his
point of view and give him more freedom in terms of theme,
use of colour and choice of subject. In his surrealistic period,
Majo is mostly influenced by Max Ernst, Dali and Jeroen Bosch.
In Majo’s opinion, Jeroen Bosch is one of the first
surrealistic painters. The influence of Dali is partly due
to the fact that Majo’s father is Catalonian.
Majo’s surrealistic period is short as well, because
it is also to restraining for him. He feels that he is too
free and rebellious to join an already existing style. His
craving for freedom and rebellion and the fact that he is
ready, lead him to decide to develop his very own style. Deep
inside he has always known that he had the potential to develop
his own style. But he had to use and experiment with other
styles, especially surrealism, to be able to develop it. At
same time he decides to leave West-Berlin, where he had lived,
worked and exhibited for five years.
TheNetherlands: the freedom of his own style, Majism
He moves to the most liberated country inEurope, The Netherlands.
He is convinced that this is the place where he can satisfy
his needs. This conviction is the reason why he says ‘au
revoir’ to his French nationality and ‘welcome’
to the Dutch.
It is here in The Netherlands where he finally has the freedom
to further develop his style. The growth process of it is
very visible in his paintings. Especially in the beginning
there are still surrealistic elements to be found. In time
these will decrease.
Et Voila, Majism is born.
Majism is not just a style to Majo it is also a philosophy
of life. Central to this philosophy of life and the style
is that Majism does not know any taboos. It is very important
to Majo that there is no taboo in choosing a subject as well
as in making a painting. It is Majo’s opinion that an
artist limits himself to much if he sticks to an already existing
style, because of which he will never be able to cross is
own boundaries and release the best of what is inside of himself.
Nine out of ten times Majo gets his inspiration out of his
dreams which come from current and daily events. He completes
these dreams, which he can’t explain in words, with
his imagination. This way he accomplishes that he paints what
people can’t see and this is essential to his style.
Also a very important aspect of Majo’s style is colour.
Colour means so much to him that he cannot put it into words.
Time after time he is searching for new colours, which is
to be seen in his art works. Nowadays Majo’s paintings
are made of oil on linen. Every painting has its theme and
every detail is of great importance.
In the year 2006 Majo’s paintings are to be found almost
everywhere around the world.
Nicole: his everything!
Majo’s wife Nicole is the most essential factor to him
as an artist and as a person. Since 1975 she is his partner,
his muse, his biggest support, but above all his guardian
angel. An artist is nothing without crutches. She catches
him when he tends to fall. She makes sure that there is structure
within the chaos which surrounds the life of an artist and
puts him back on his two feet when he sometimes loses track
Without Nicole Majo would not have been the artist he is today.
Because of his inexhaustible fantasy, ideas and inspiration,
Majo has an inner fear that he will not have enough time to
realise all of it. For as far as his future is concerned he
wants nothing more than be to able to keep on painting. One
of his wishes is that he will someday have the opportunity
to help make and create one or more movies. He also would
love to make sculptures à la Majism. Whether his wishes
will ever come true?
Only time will tell.