top of page

John Fou


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?

A: Confidence.

Q: Do you hope that the person portrayed will eventually identify with your portrait?

A: The biggest challenge in portraiture is to bring it to life. Sometimes the portrait doesn’t look much like the person, but people recognize the model. It is hard to explain. Let me say that sometimes you might catch the good details as a painter, and that is enough. I think it’s all about the detail! Most of the time I do too much; it is all about finding the good details.


Recent posts

bottom of page