Environment: PROD

Jaouad Bentama


Translated from French:

Jaouad Bentama comes from a very underprivileged urban area but from a united family. To make ends meet, Bentama father & son spend their weekends reselling objects they found in the streets of St. Ouen’s flea market. For him, it’s an activity like any other, where each week the same people gather : a small community that helps and know one another. "There was some kind of urban legend in this place. We all knew each other, and wherever someone was missing the call, people always said : he found a Renoir or a Picasso, he sold it and bought a castle! I firmly believed those stories were true, and at that time, was asking my brother: but who is This Picasso? I’m going to find him and we’re going to be rich! Here’s how at the age of 8, I discovered that there were people who could live from their art through drawings and paintings."

A decisive beginning. 

When he was 11, at the end of a school day, his mother didn’t come to pick him up but instead appeared their neighbor : Monsieur Pierrot. "I knew this neighbor, but I always thought he was strange. He never talked much. I guess I was a bit intimidated and scared by him."

This day, in order to help the overworking mother of Jaouad, this singular neighbor brought the child to his place, gave him some cakes and in order to keep him busy, gave him three gouache’s tubes and a paintbrush. 
"Do something big boy!" he said. "With these few words, it gave me confidence and I started to paint, and watch him paint"

This is how, thanks to this scary-at-first-but-very-kind-neighbor-after-all, Jaouad discovered the pleasure of painting and that he was actually good and gifted for something. 

From now on, he will draw and paint every single day, on his own? in his room. Unfortunately, his family will have other priorities, and won’t be able to have a real look at his drawings. But it won’t stop him. 

Small jobs and a deep breakdown. This could be the title of Jaouad’s youth. A downward spiral to Parisian hell… Even though his family and friends are here, he can’t manage to recover. He creates a lot, but don’t have hope in life anymore and lost all his self confidence. And suddenly something clicked inside of him, the urge to live knocked at his door and made him pack his bags to New York City where everything is possible. 

One morning in October 2012, he lands in this unknown city, and everything goes very, very fast. He creates. A lot. Makes great encounters. Easily. He is not afraid anymore and does a lot of exhibitions. 
Nothing is won, yet. But Hope is back. 

What emerges from Jaouad is his urge to live and to create artwork which echoes deeply with the lightness, the happiness and the innocence of childhood. 

To Leave New York one day? His answer is simple : "I gave it all my life, I will let it all my soul."


Check out his work here, and follow him on instagram.