Jean Pierre hopes his artwork will help healing process

PEACEFUL oil paintings that aim to energise the viewer are now on display for patients, staff and visitors at the Rethink Wellbeing Project in Warwick.

Monday, 5th March 2012, 7:01 am

Leamington artist Jean-Pierre Kunzler, who has had work exhibited at galleries including the Birmingham Midland Institute, Barber Institute, the Pump Room gallery in Leamington, Gaia wholefoods shop, Millenium Sweets and the Courier office, wants to offer a channel towards healing for those going through tough times.

The 45-year-old was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 14, and from a young age found that art has become as necessary a treatment for him as his medication.

He said: “Bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance. A lot of people have mental gymnastics, but with bipolar, it’s extreme. But it’s all controlled by medication.

“When I was being treated at what used to be the Central Hospital in Hatton, I would often sketch some of the people who were in hospital.

“I realised that the medication would do so much, but when I was painting and drawing, my mind would become clear and peaceful. If you have something on your mind, painting can help channel your thoughts.”

Last autumn, a close friend of Jean-Pierre’s committed suicide. He said: “That inspired me to keep painting, so I could paint out my feelings.

“Bereavement can often be expressed through poetry, music or art. It is a healing process.”

Jean-Pierre himself has been admitted to hospital 28 times, but he said: “As my painting has improved, there have been fewer admissions.

“If I had not been painting, I would have experienced much more sorrow in my life. Painting has been the way to come to terms with an un-quiet mind.”

And he spends most days working on his art in his studio flat, taking influences from Marc Chagall, Stanley Spencer, Vincent Van Gogh and William Turner.

Jean-Pierre, who has never had any formal art training, wanted to display this collection - which he has called ‘Reflected Dreams’ - at the Rethink Project in the hope that it may be able to help some of the people who go there.

He said: “I want my paintings to give out energy rather than confront, disturb or challenge.

“I would like to think that occasionally someone who has gone through a hard time can feel slightly healed - even if it’s just for three seconds.

“I would encourage lonely elderly people, those who are ill and those who are depressed to paint.”

Reflected Dreams is on at the Rethink Project at the Old Bank in Coten End, Warwick, until March 31.