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Paysage africain

"Faces of Africa" Project

The project consists of a set of twelve (12) large format portraits of figures from Africa. The project was carried out over a year and a half, in 2018-2019, and the complete series was presented for the first time during a solo exhibition which took place at the Carte Blanche gallery in Montreal.

Context of this project

I worked on a lot of Caucasian female portraits and I needed to explore other physiognomies faces, new colors and above all to create a series of large paintings that I could possibly exhibit solo.

The project was born following a coincidence of events. On the one hand, I contemplated the idea of fragmenting the image to work a little like the pointillists and on the other hand a photographer friend graciously shared with me a set of travel photos from Africa.

The genesis

Following an exploratory work by touches on small canvases and with few colors I decided to attack the first portrait by applying an important constraint; work with a single tool for the whole canvas. I needed to find a relatively narrow spatula to allow me some level of detail, but not too small to lose the mark of this one.

  I wanted to work with bright and exploded colors in order to obtain an image with color variations from one key to another and which would reveal the shapes and their volume through an optical mixture.

In terms of the layout of the keys, I could have adopted a pixelated attitude which arranges the colored keys according to a rectilinear or curvilinear grid system. I rather chose to arrange my keys in a uniform way without any particular system, however they had to be oriented in the most random way possible to bet on the spontaneity of the gesture.

Given the process of gradually adding touches, the color of the background would have an influence on the final result. Difficult to assess this one at the start, should a color close to the dominant or even complementary be used?

Sources of inspiration

Apart from the technical side of the production of the canvases, there is the choice of subjects to take place in the series. The choice of candidates was made in a progressive way and based on several criteria, including the emotion released by the character, the non-verbal message and the power of the gaze. I also chose different color backstage environments and moods.

I chose some characters under direct sunlight which gives very strong contrasts. Other subjects, on the other hand, are shot in semi-shaded lighting, which softens the features, but leaves enough space for superb reflections.

What I learned from this project

The final result of this series convinced me to pursue this contemporary pointillist approach for future explorations both in terms of color and textures and the dimension of the elements.

It seemed essential to me to work on the entire surface of the painting rather than working by zones in order to ensure harmony and continuity in terms of color.

I also observed the powerful interaction of colors between them and especially the interaction of complementary colors. I also noticed the dissonance that a few keys can cause with a barely perceptible different tonality compared to the established set.

The background color has an impact not only on the interaction with the colors on the surface, but also in the development of the final color by the transparency of the superimposed colors.

This series of portraits Faces of Africa was presented at the Carte blanche gallery in Montreal and then at the Trinity art center in Saint-ean-sur-Richelieu.

"Despite everything that separates us, there is the gaze which is true, sincere and which is not disturbed by all kinds of preconceived ideas" .

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