The History of the Artist
Early Life and Education:
Mondoloni was born in Pitretu, a southern Corsican mountain hamlet, in the commune of Petreto-Bicchisano (Pitretu-Bichigjia). He speaks his mother tongue Corsican pumuntincu, which translated means "below the mountains" in Southern Corsican and "beyond the mountains" in Northern Corsican.
He was named Jules (Ghjuliu) in honour of his paternal uncle, Jules Mondoloni, who was assassinated along with his companion André Giusti in resistance to the fascist invader on 17 June, 1943, which triggered the general uprising on the island and the liberation of the first French department in September of the same year.
After secondary school in Petreto-Bicchisano, he studied for one year at the Lycée Fesch d'Ajaccio, then at the École Normale d'Instituteurs in Ajaccio where he obtained his baccalaureate. In Ajaccio, he visited the Fesch Museum, where the largest collection of Italian primitives and various paintings pillaged during the war campaigns in Europe by Napoleon's uncle-cardinal, Joseph Fesch, exists. Jules was then qualified for the Lycée Masséna (1967-68) in Nice, one of the few institutions that prepared young students for the national competition to qualify them to become candidates for the Lycée Claude Bernard, in Paris.
In Nice, Mondoloni and his classmates were required to create free art forms, d'Art Plastiques and pass a multitude of rigorous tests in the academic tradition. They were challenged to reproduce studio plaster busts of Voltaire, Houdon, the Beau Dieu d'Amiens ca.1230 and the head of the Dying Slave by Michelangelo in the Louvre.
In 1968, through winning a competition, Mondoloni earned acceptance to the famous Lycée Claude Bernard in Paris to pursue his studies for the professorship of drawing and plastic arts. During school holidays, he traveled throughout Europe, along with his American friend David Linker and visited Toledo (El Greco), Madrid (Prado Museum), Algeria and Morocco, Tunisia, Rome and Florence (Michel-Angelo Buonaroti), and the Netherlands (Rembrandt, Veermer, Van Gogh).
In the four years that followed, I saw my dreams of studying painting beyond academia fade. I realized that the visual arts taught in school only destined students for the professoriate. Even worse for Jules was the anti-Corsican sentiment of his drawing professor, whose scornful appellation of "the Corsican" was a major factor for his disdain of the school. In 1973, Jules left Lycée Claude Bernard.
Even after leaving the school, he stayed in Paris and went alone or with his former painting professor, M. Cordeau and his classmates to museums to draw the works of the great masters: Poussin, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Delacroix, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Rodin, Michelangelo. Also he still had access to the school’s history of art program and studied Egyptian Antiquity, Greek, Asian, the art of cathedrals and Spanish painting as well as "primitive art," African, American, and Maghrebin.
Jules lived at 56, rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Paris 9ème, which looked out upon the rooftops. It was in that tiny room that Jules illustrated with gouache the entire story in three sketchbooks of Alice in Wonderland after David Linker gave him a copy that he brought back from London. Jules went back to Corsica where he applied for the teacher's exam and then in October, 1981, Jules participated in an annual training course internship for specialists in modern educational techniques at the École Normale Supérieure de Saint-Cloud.
Career and Travels:
After he returned to Corsica from Paris, from 1973-82, Mondoloni became an art teacher in the French National Education system, teaching in different towns from north to south, from Bastia to Bonifacio. The precarious conditions (he often slept in the corridor of the school, or in an official housing without electricity or hot water) inevitably led him to melancholy and he was put on disability by the National Education. He also had a job at the Maison de la Culture de la Corse creating theater decoration and graphic novels. During his years as a professor, he continued his travels during school vacations throughout Europe (Western Turkey, Moscow, Leningrad, Greece, Venice, Naples), Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Thailand and Vietnam). After his teaching job he continued to travel to Morocco, Tunisia, Greece, and beyond.
Mondoloni’s work has been profoundly influenced by the nuances of color and light, as a poet creates nuances with words. After the death of his mother in 1988, he left Corsica to wander North Africa, seeking solace. The light of Tunisia changed his way of seeing, which moved him away from the classical vision imposed by the school of "realism resembling reality.” The light impresses the eye of the painter and renews his palette of colours. What he saw during his travels in the vibrant decorations of the village festivals, in the colorful native costumes and in the hues of the desert, made him invent brighter colours that are often far from reality. The precise, detailed line, stripped from the Saracen atmosphere, does nothing to contain its beauty.
Finally being able to paint as he liked, he organized, with the help of his brother Daniel, various exhibitions, including three exhibitions in museums which put his work in their permanent collections: Filitosa Museum (Corsican prehistoric site), Rimbaud Museum in Charleville and Musée National du Sport in Nice.
Jules had his first American exhibition in New York at the David Linker Gallery in Manhattan (now in Brooklyn). Jules’ esteem for his native Corsica is a theme that runs through much of his work. He illustrates the impressive panoramas between sea and mountains, the splendors of its still wild maquis, a reserve of fauna and flora, many of which are endemic to the islands. He has communicated his passion for Corsican mythology through ink illustrations and “bandes dessinées.” As a sculptor, he bears a soul that has been forged by the multi-millennia tradition of the sculptors of stone megaliths from his native island. He is inspired by Corsica's history and its prehistoric era, creating paintings, illustrations, sculptures and photography of the Dolmen (Tola, stazzona) and Menhirs (Paladini, stantari, petri ritti), of the prehistoric sites and also of the age of antiquity, the Genoese towers, and its marvellous villages, Bonifacio.
Jules’ work seeks to preserve the natural and free state of his island. The defenders of the Corsican coast are trying to stop the artificialization of it. The island is quite small and much of it has become populated with barely occupied vacation homes, which take up space where there was once nature. The public domain has been privatized and the sea is being blocked by concrete structures. Where once the flowering plants, called Posidonia, sheltered a multitude of fish and seahorses, the rockfill for the docks for the boats in the marina have crushed everything.
Mondoloni demonstrates an affection for creating homages to those who inspire him. His tributes to Rimbaud, John Coltrane, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Van Gogh, and the professional boxers is a form of recognition to those who inspire him and who have likewise met personal difficulties as well on the human and material level. However, they overcame them and passed on to posterity essential works of artistic heritage. It is also a message of hope and encouragement that highlights the suffering experienced, not only by these artists, but also the struggles of much of humanity. His work exalts the depth and strength of human perseverance.