Claude JAMMET was born of French parents in Zimbabwe.
She grew up and was educated in Kenya, India and Japan and moved to South Africa at the age of 19.
She is entirely self-taught as an artist and was a director of the Tait Gallery in South Africa from 1983-1986.
When I was a very young artdealer indeed, a friend who was also a dealer invited me to a vernissage at his gallery. The opening was a young self-taught artist’s first exhibition and her name was Claude Jammet. Although we have often lived on separate continents, our friendship has endured and I have also had the pleasure of exhibiting her works several times myself.
I have watched many artists grow and change with time (or, sadly, not) but few with such interest as Jammet who seems to grow in technique, rigour and intensity with increasing pace and fury. As she now approaches the height of her powers, her vision, always compassionate, is now darker and more sensual. Her portraits were always amongst her finest work and those of children astonishing in their clear-eyed affection which never became sentimental but now there is a transcendence which is new and exciting to behold.
Jammet’s complexity as an artist can, I believe, be traced back to her childhood which was peripatetic to say the least. Born of French parents in Zimbabwe, she lived in Kenya, India and Japan before settling for many years in South Africa. She now lives and works in Italy. The result of this is evident in her work – she is always the foreigner, the visitor observing other people and their lives with a warm but analytical eye and reporting her findings to the viewer.
I have never met anyone who treads more lightly on the world, who consumes less resources and who, although gregarious at times, is essentially solitary and lives a fined down life shorn of inessentials. She does not drive a car and she still writes letters and, what is more, with a pen!
I am writing this brief essay in the Karoo – the harsh, beautiful and ancient dry heart of Southern Africa which is where, I believe, Jammet is most at home – walking for hours in the fierce heat or bitter cold amongst the fossils and succulents with her fragile beauty hiding a steel core of toughness – a paradox which is reflected so often in her work.
- Trent Read, artdealer & friend, South Africa
‘The grain of colour: that is how Claude Jammet’s images first request our attention. As if this grain existed only between the proposed scene and ourselves, a fatal suspension of one knows not what corpuscles. Minerals? Possibly, as dust of sediment, as if the condensation of particles in levitation was not completed. The painter’s frame which suggests a halt in the temporal flux, with the immobilised attitudes forever frozen, has not erased this hint of an unsettled deposit. The dynamic betrays itself with the illusion of a dry mist. The kind that hovers in barns on very hot spells: the hay produces a trembling in the air, tired beams and floorboards too,. So that the inanimate comes alive.’
- Jacques De Decker - novelist, man of theatre, literary critic & permanent Secretary of the Royal Academy of French Language & Literature in Belgium