THE ART OF OLIVIER FONTEAU
Olivier Fonteau is a French artist born in 1975 in the Caribbean island of Martinique. His passion for drawing and sculpture led him to move to the European city of Strasbourg to study architecture for two years. Then he settled in Granada, Spain, for a semester to perfect his knowledge of the Spanish language and immerse himself in an Andalusian culture rich in sound, light and love.
Living in the historic neighborhood of “El Albaicin,” his sense of the cultural beauty of the area was reinforced each day through the “Cante Hondo,” Flamenco dance, and artists from around the world who came to this great cultural site.
Back in France, the production of drawings, paintings and sculptures gave way to more commercial leaning activities while still pursuing other forms of art as he continued his quest for the “Principle of Creation” that Shitao named “The Unique Brush Stroke.” Photography and writing were two of his major focuses at this time. The latter, the study of sacred texts, he has been doing since the age of seventeen years old. The study of the great civilizations of history is, for him, something that he cannot get enough of, given his constant quest for knowledge and wisdom.
Photography became for him another artistic medium to showcase his creativity. In 2005, on his return to Martinique, his various photographic commissions led him to make album covers for music, reports for the press, advertising agencies and production boxes. He also collaborated on projects of production and voice-overs for TV shows and commercials. In 2016, the appeal of painting and sculpture became ever stronger and he decided to put his energies fully into it. His painting is made of iridescent acrylic, allowing him to communicate the alliance of light and colors. The use of metallic colors like gold, silver and copper signify the beautiful yet worn out mercantile society. He also uses the black as glass volcanic sand coming from the depths of the millennia-old volcanic island of Martinique in his work. His works are a tribute to his Caribbean, African and European ancestry and the marriage of the eastern brush stroke with that of the medieval style, based on a triptych of light, vibration and energy.
“I do not paint for myself but for a heart that, somewhere on earth, has asked the Universe
for it. I’m just waiting to know with whom she will fall in Love … ”
What are your inspirations?
I am inspired by the dialog I have with the canvas, the wood, the material with which I will work. I like to ask the clean sheet : « What preexists on you ? », « What do you want ? Which colors, which medium ? » and wait for the response… Inside, in a conversation with my heart. It’s like hearing it, be conscious, be present and let it go, let the stroke and the gesture draw the history, capturing the idea but not the form, painting the emotion, that secret message for someone in our universe coming from a different universe, like being a bridge. I love to paint what is before the reality, what is between the « without form, shape and void », and the manifestation. So my inspiration is the sum of my meditations about this universe, about the sacred, about the different cultures and humanities, about reality and perceptions.
What are your philosophical tendencies in your art collectively?
I think Art must be deeply connected to the sacred, the spiritual, the Divine and the simple. Philosophically, some people will tell you that I am a gnostic, but I am not; I have just had a strong faith since the moment I was born. I grew up in the love and admiration of the healing work of the Christ, with a wonderful Grandma teaching me by her living life to talk and act like a Saint. And at the same time attracted by the ancient civilizations’ wisdom and art (Mayan, Amerindian, Native American, Buddhist, European, African, Chinese, Japanese, Arab, etc.). So, for me, my art is a way to healing the world, by giving people the secret chant of their dreams in artwork.
Any advice you’d share with nascent artists?
Believe in your dreams.
Work hard and study the old masters, cultures (it’s very necessary; go to the museums, read, listen).
« Inspiration is for amateurs, professionals know only work. »
Look at the artworks of others artists, be admiring and try to do better, with your singularity.
The stroke is never wrong, try to do your best.
And take time to love the people around you…
Can you share a little concerning materials, composition, process?
I use a spatula for painting, glue, some brightening black volcanic sand. This sand is very symbolic to me, because it is connected to the last sleeping volcano in Martinique, « La Montagne Pelée », famous in the scientific world for his terrific and dramatic eruption in 1902. This sand came from the deepest and powerful part of my French West Indies island, from the North Atlantic, linked to the Amerindian part, magnetic and very thin, acting like a mirror when you use a light on it. Symbolizing death and renaissance (rebirth). I use acrylic iridescent and normal, transparent colors, China ink and different other inks. I don’t use colors for Black and the White; for example, the Black in my artworks is only made by the sand or the China Ink, and the white by the Canvas or the Gesso. For my paintings, Black and White must not really be colors but materials. There are the Alpha and the Omega of Colors so they must be expressed differently. Light has a very important part in my work. I love light, vibration, energy. In the process I must be awake and present in this dialog with the artwork. I know it is finished when I can’t physically put anything more on the canvas, when it says to me « It’s finished » and I am pushed back; at this time I know it’s enough. I work on perceptions in my Artwork so the picture of my art cannot totally be perceived by the medium of a picture, because it’s changing during the day, with the artificial light. You got to look forward the perceptions…
About the Artist:
His work is available for purchase at:
And by e-mail: [email protected]