Jérôme emailed me one day and after looking at his fantastic work http://www.jeromeromain.com/, I contacted him immediately.  He’s a great contemporary realist painter who lives in France.  Here’s our cool chat …

MICHAEL: Jerome!  Your work is fantastic.  You spend a lot of time painting people in places.  Why do you paint people so much?

JÉRÔME: I suppose I paint people because that's the only subject that really interests me.  Sometimes, I feel like I'm watching the world in a sociological way maybe.  People in action in places tells us a lot about our society. I want to paint our contemporary world with a sort of classic technique.
And as a painter, the human figure is the most difficult subject and I think I like challenges.

MICHAEL: Your work is very bright and vivid and full of color almost like photographs. Do you think you are a photorealist artist or Hyperrealist artist?  Why do you like this?

JÉRÔME: Lots of people say that I'm an Hyperrealist painter, but I really prefer to say just Realist. I use photography and sometimes I like to play with the code of photography, but it's just a tool.

The aspect of painting, the representational modes, always changed during history. Now people see so many pictures all the time. Every two minutes, we take more pictures than all of humanity in the 19th century, so that's the way people see the world. That's why my paintings probably sometimes look like photographs. I do that to create a kind of proximity between my paintings and the others. It's just one way to explore representation ... but my work is "changing" all the time.

MICHAEL: What does painting people and our world do for you?  What have you learned about the world by painting people?

JÉRÔME: Painting and the world do nothing for me.  I guess I'm just a part of it. Sometimes, it gives me some pleasure, sometimes it's hard! That makes me what I am right now. I don't know if I’ve learned something  by painting people.  I’ve always watched the world very carefully since I was a kid. The world seems really complex and all the people are different. I read lots of novels and philosophy to try to understand more and the good thing with painting is you don’t have to give answers, you just make some small extraction and concentrate on it for a while. For sure, I have a point a view, but it's often too complex, so I think I don't judge what I show ... you can do what you want with it.

MICHAEL: I love the fact that you use humor and make some of your images funny ... like the painting of the man's hand that's giving the finger.  What do you think about humor in art?

JÉRÔME: I don't know what to think about humor in art.  I suppose it must be like in life. You can't only paint funny things because it will probably become boring, but sometimes it's cool.  In my work, I use it sometimes, but more in an ironic way, I guess.  Maybe because it creates some kind of distance and more comprehension of my point of view.

MICHAEL: Do you come from an artistic family?  What's your first memory of art?  How did you become an artist?  Did you paint when you were a child?

JÉRÔME: No. I come from a working family that never studied, but my father was - as I can remember - good in drawing, so I started to draw really early and never stopped, but I really started to paint in art school. When I was a child, I remember looking at paintings in the dictionary (a Boucher painting with naked girl).  I suppose I just became an artist because I paint all the time and don't want to do something else.  But I spent years before I became able to say, "I'm a painter."

MICHAEL:  What is the purpose of art?  So many people do not buy art so why should people care?  Many people never think about art so what's the big deal?

JÉRÔME: Maybe art has no purpose.  It's just a beautiful think human beings sometimes do. It can't change the world, but it can be a kind of a mirror.  It can help people to see and think in a different way. Nobody has to care about art.  It's a personal, sensitive choice and there is no big deal! Nobody cares?  Probably not!  But I’m good with that. I don't want to be approved.  I just do what I want and I don't really care about the rest.

MICHAEL: Thanks Jérôme.  This has been great.  I’m thrilled that you’re now one of “my artists”!

JÉRÔME: Thanks to you.  It was a pleasure.  Love the way you do your interviews!  I’m just sad to be not able to speak well in English. Happy to be one of "your artists"!

MICHAEL: You were great Jérôme.  I wish that I could chat with you in French!

Check out Mr. Romain’s stunning work at http://www.jeromeromain.com/.