Eric Roux-Fontaine is a creator of marvelous dreamscapes, convincingly constructing fictional realms and alternate realities. He renders the surreal and fantastic by strategically borrowing from conventions of the familiar. The artist, like the nineteenth and early twentieth century painters before him, goes on “grand tours” around the world for inspiration. In contrast to the bustle and excitement of his travels, Roux-Fontaine paints from a secluded cabin studio located in the expansive jungle of Central America.
He states that he is “on a quest to find the source of where dreams find their imagery.” His unique style falls somewhere between Rococo and Fauvism, employing a colorful airy quality that, at the same time, is thickly built up. This allows for the surreal yet grounded visions he produces that are usually reserved for our dreams.
Eric Roux-Fontaine was born in France in 1966. There, he studied at the Beaux-Arts de Saint Etienne and graduated in 1988. Today he quenches his boundless curiosity and desire to learn through his travels. Roux-Fontaine is a twenty-first century nomad: a solitary wanderer in a time of group-thinking and conformity. His unique perspective to the world and its features, though standalone, offer a whimsically unifying quality appealing to international collectors, galleries, and institutions alike.
“I want to sleep the sleep of apples / and get away from the tumult of cemeteries”
Federico Garcia Lorca
There is Manouche Pollock and Fairground Courbet at the find Éric Roux-Fontaine. It is said that the hand is the extension of the heart and body of the artist who paints; to see it at work, we taste the accuracy of the definition. Éric Roux-Fontaine advances in his painting as in the jungle: groping, step by step, gesture after gesture. During its first phases, the paint is on the ground, the pigments mix with the marble powder, the canvas is scraped by brushes, floated by knives, washed with large amounts of water. “The artist must grind the world and put it in his painting,” he says. Isn’t this marvelous alchemy that springs from the struggle of the elements, water mixed with earth, the metaphor of life? It is then that under the brush of the demiurge artist, the subject is gradually revealed, in this repetition of gestures which would be the same as that of the explorer armed with his machete and cutting the jungle.
The paradox of Eric Roux-Fontaine’s painting lies in the fact that his landscapes do not exist while being made up of perfectly identifiable and recognizable plant elements: banyan trees, willows, palm trees, marshes, mosses, lianas … His landscapes are in fact the fruit of his syncretic vision, nourished by his multiple peregrinations from India to Amazonia via the Carpathians, journeys often made in the wake of the Gypsy exodus. Éric Roux-Fontaine in fact offers a new reading of landscape in painting. Historical reminder: the divine and aerial vision of the symbolic landscape of the Middle Ages was replaced by the mathematical vision of perspective in the Renaissance. Alberti thus defines the painting as an open window on the story of the painting. With modern art, the landscape is now at human height: the viewer’s point of view is now the same as that of the painter facing the landscape he has before his eyes. With Eric Roux-Fontaine, surveyor of the vast limits of our world, we now have a different vision: the spectator is now under the foliage, he contemplates from a low angle the trunks that support the vast canopy of the jungle, his gaze follows the serpentine sinuosities of branches and lianas to get lost in the branches. The feet in the mangroves, the gaze in the foliage. “The shadow of the clouds is the palace of beggars” likes to say the artist. This relationship to verticality, again.
Eric Roux-Fontaine’s paintings resist any unequivocal reduction. They are apprehended at first glance in their very material, in the furrows and fine lines drawn in the impasto of his Vanities or else in the smooth and tactile flatness of his landscapes which would almost call out the palm of his hand. The colors seem to move of their own free will, like the toy of telluric forces and underground currents. Then we see. We see what is shown: a big funfair wheel, a bed in the forest, a glass hut in a clearing, a cloud of butterflies that fly away at the approach of the poet; we see but we don’t necessarily understand. From this plurality of interpretations (as plural, certainly, as there are spectators) is born this delicious disturbance, this solicitation of the spectator wanted by the artist. If Éric-Roux Fontaine encourages us to push the curtain of trees that mask his big wheels, if he invites us to his vision of a jungle that is as much of that of Mowgli as of the banks of the Amazon, it is that the artist, half Zingari half painter, wants to lead us on the path of the reconquest of enchantment, to bring us back in a way to the threshold of Eden, paradise lost in this love of infinity. His paintings then become the door to an interior geography, a cartography of the intimate, a treasure map whose jackpot will be the full and entire acceptance of the mystery of our world. There is no doubt that if Rudyard Kipling, Cendrars or Jack London had been painters, their works would not have been far from those of Eric Roux-Fontaine. With his traveling companions, Éric Roux-Fontaine shares in any case the same destination: they walk together towards the light.
But what survive the disappeared worlds? What do they rely on to be reborn? On the memories and dreams that lingered there before swarming again.
Eric Roux-Fontaine knows something about it. He lived in another land. Nothing says that we were not there and that we were not able, like him, to listen to it and feed our eyes; but he agreed to it better than all. Better than any other, he grasped the game of whispers and warm tones that would enhance their colors, revive their drafts and, in this way, let the tender jungles regain power over worn out kingdoms.
Roux-Fontaine works by strata, by sensations, by joyful collision between relief and transparency.
He doesn’t make up anything. Her cosmetics are pigments and marble powder, something to look far behind the material and regenerate the reflections. Like a lake, such a sky overflowing with impatience; such a burning hut in a burning icy sun. The painter likes opaque transparencies. He cannot get rid of it. In this intense vegetal respiration, icebergs point in phantom liners, preserving in their hull a secret mechanism of ovulation. The Moon also incubates secrets and there is no dream without it. Echoing its cold glow, swimming pools are abandoned to the whims of the tall trees cathedrals. Barks from bridges or fairground temples serve as bracelets for the leaves. In this Eden of new synthesis, a fauna regains its rights in excellent cleaning. It is the unchecked flight of birds. A pachyderm to meet us. The lively nature of a hare. All this cradled in sweetness.
That a human silhouette arises, finally, it is of an uncertain passage. Without integration guarantee.
In transit in this virginity. Children are swinging there again, very high, without moving the air, but it is no longer the man who now dominates, with his curious adventures, his appetite for disorder, his production of mess. The paths which are proposed to him are bushy dazzles to be trusted. Today, artists must be animals. Progress at the muzzle, have a scenting soul. Eric Roux-Fontaine is one of these new big cats.