John Fou, "Gabriel", "Hoodie", "Rebekka", "Jur", "Autoportrait", "Steven"
oil on canvas, 2019
Q: What can we learn from portraiture?
A: As a painter, I would say that there are many different entrances through which to create a portrait. It could be a painting that evolves from the imagination. This entrance is situated in the mind - an idea that is projected on a person. It is a very subjective way of painting. You can also paint from a photograph. Here, I discover all the details - the superficial ones. This entrance is more of a technical approach and is about aesthetics. Painting from observation is another approach. You are together in space with the person you are portraying. Then there is a connection, which, for me, is the most powerful part of portraiture. The act of painting then becomes a dialogue; an exchange. The person that I am connecting with gives me something very precious.
Q: What can a portrait do?
A: A portrait is always part of myself, part of who I am and my identity as a painter. But it is also a part of the universe, I would say. It sounds a very hippie-like answer, but I believe that we are all connected.
Q: By making, seeing or experiencing, which portrait or piece of text has made you think differently about portrait art?
A: In 2019, I went to New York and saw an incredible exhibition of Alice Neel. She was an American painter that lived from 1900 to 1984. I am very interested in her paintings between the 30 and 70’s. In her portraits, she revealed aspects of the people she portrayed with a very strong sense of freedom and liberty. Her technique is very wild and can encourage viewers to follow in her footsteps. It gave me the motivation to start a process of doing portraits for months. It was an incredible discovery for me.
Q: What is the most important quality to possess as a portrait artist?
Q: Do you hope that the person portrayed will eventually identify with your portrait?