Born in 1968, François Fontaine has long work between France and Spain.
Tinged with poetry and the traces of his imagination, Fontaine's work gives us license to visually roaming with the ability to carefully observe. In Spain, he has documented the night rounds of the Médicos Del Mundo while on their mission to help transsexual people. Afterward, he completed an incredible body of work encompassing all of South-East Asia (China, Japan and India).
He shows regularly in Paris, Barcelona, and China. His exhibition, “The Phnom-Penh jails,” won the Kodak Critic's Prize. His work, “Lost China,” was a finalist in the 2006 Leica Oskar Bernack Prize and was projected at the Rencontres d’Arles the same year.
« Memory does not film, memory photographs”
(Milan Kundera, Immortality)
This a photographic essay on the cinema, on cinematographic images.
A work in which movie stills are extracted from their initial medium and diverted from their original context. An analysis about movie stills, and the emotions and questions they raise when shown as photographs. A reflection about memory, dreams, fantasy.
Styles, stories and periods interlink and blend in these images, each one echoing the others. They are the silent witnesses of fear and desire.
They are timeless images that seem to surge out of the subconscious. Blurred, shaken, in movement in their very immobility, these images reflect...
“The moon and the sun are your eyes,
I see you as such, the face shining with fire,
Your brightness illuminates the world”
(Bhagavas Gîtâ, verse 11.19)
In Autumn 2010, I went to India to photograph the pilgrims of one of the oldest religions on earth: Hinduism. At dawn and at dusk, the hour when light fades into the elements, I met those believers, focusing my work on their attitudes and movements. From millenial ghâts of Varanasi and Haridwar to countless sanctuaries of southern India, I immersed myself into this complex and fascinating religion, seeking to capture the mystical fervour of those human beings and the divine breath exhaling from their temples.
Berlin has grabbed me with its architecture, the beauty of its monuments and the diversity of its districts. The evening, Berlin is transformed into a lighting city, with fantastic and mysterious appearances. It’s a many-sided and paradoxically town, like the ancient and contemporary monuments which form it. Both modern and innovative (Potsdamer Platz, Hauptbanhof), Berlin is still strongly established in its own old history (Reichstag, Brandenbourg Tor) and in its recent past (Fernsehturm, Checkpoint Charlie). The Wall that has stigmatized the city for 20 years is felt at any bend of the town, and its “presence-absence” halos the capital with a particular aura (Gedenkstätte Berliner...
Travelling to Japan was a child dream. Since ever, I was observing on the walls of our home, the prints of Utamaro and Harunobu that my father, a navy officer, had got back from a trip there.
Leaving for Japan in spring 2008, I found again this universe that was clearly striking a chord. All along the trip, an hazy floating accompanied me. Like the Shoji, those doors that silently slide in the wooden grooves of the temples and of traditional houses, I was in a vaporous and silent world.
The similarity between people and nature was the most striking. Furtive silhouettes seen in bars from Shinjuku to Tokyo, the frail silhouettes sliding in the alleys of Gion or Kyoto, were looking like the...
The day, Paris is a city full of wise and immobile characters. The night, those strong and static bodies move and live. The innocent figures, which play their usual role of Parisian monuments with dignity, are transformed in a swarm of strange characters. Lights transform them, city lights make up them, and shadows give them all the liberties. In the mysterious Parisian nightlife, statues vibrate, brush against, touch, and pursue themselves with frenzy. Evil fauns, fantastic animals, and molten human bodies became the new inhabitants of the city. Enveloped with unfathomable and mysterious halos of light, those stone and bronze being are getting restless around us, waking up our most deep...
During the summer of 2005, I left for a residency at the Museum of Art of Guangdong, city of Guangzhou (Canton). I took the Transsiberian to Peking and then travelled China by train from the north to south and from there to the east. ...
The Transsiberian is both a mythical train and a railway, which links up Moscow to Vladivostok, on the seaside of the Japan Sea.
François Fontaine has crossed its 9,238 kilometres and has caught the particular atmosphere on board.
Crossing the Ural steppes, and riverbanks of the lake Baikal, this trip offers wild landscapes, always captured from windows of the train.
In Salvador de Bahia, churches have invaluable treasures. Christs. Blood-stained and sublime. They come in different sizes or colours, in wood, in plaster, in ivory, silver or gold. They’ve been sculpted by great Portuguese or foreign artists, free or slaves. The body of the Christ is always magnificent: tortured or devastated but lonely and majestic. Some statues have an intense carnal presence. And a pathetic expression that fascinates. It emanates from these suffering bodies a tragic beauty. As well as sensuality.
Walking for three years (1999-2001) through the streets of animated districts of Madrid, I was fascinated by the profusion and the poetic strength of its wide billsticking. Those posters which daily invade walls of the capital, and where all the cultures mix themselves – Iberian and foreigners – seems to be symbols and messages to crack. Those posters, made with pictures and drawings, offer with their tears and stain an enchantment of colours and strange conformities. A strange poetry spurt out of this crumpling of colour papers that overlaps each other and that hazard accidents or the subconscious gesture of a passer-by had transformed as times goes by. I loved to catch – but with no other...
This portrait series of transsexual people was realised in the street of Madrid in the summer of 2001.
During several months, I followed a mobile unit of Médicos del Mundo in its night help and attention to prostitutes of Madrid’s program. I choose to focus on the transsexual ones, those flowers of the night, which are subjected constantly to discriminations and attacks from a part of the population. What deeply stir me in these persons, is the expression of their face, their look particularly, which is rarely in keeping with words and gestures of their work.
In this look, we read too often an unspeakable distress, and a never ended exasperation. Those persons, with a whimsical and...
« Memory does not film, memory photographs »\r(Milan Kundera, Immortality)\r\rThis a photographic essay on the cinema, on cinematographic images.\rA work in which movie stills are extracted from their initial medium and diverted from their original context. An analysis about movie stills, and the emotions and questions they raise when shown as photographs. A reflection about memory, dreams, fantasy.\rStyles, stories and periods interlink and blend in these images, each one echoing the others. They are the silent witnesses of fear and desire.\r\rThey are timeless images that seem to surge...
Travelling to Japan was a child dream. Since ever, I was observing on the walls of our home, the prints of Utamaro and Harunobu that my father, a navy officer, had got back from a trip there.\r\rLeaving for Japan in spring 2008, I found again this universe that was clearly striking a chord. All along the trip, an hazy floating accompanied me. Like the Shoji, those doors that silently slide in the wooden grooves of the temples and of traditional houses, I was in a vaporous and silent world. \r\rThe similarity between people and nature was the most striking. Furtive silhouettes seen in bars...
Lost in China (Mandelieu-la-Napoule) From 2011-05-14 to 2011-05-22
On the occasion of the annual film festival "Visions Social" organized by the Works Committee of EDF during the Cannes Film Festival at Chateau de la Napoule in Mandelieu.\r\r "In the summer of 2005, I left in residence at the Art Museum of Guangdong, Guangzhou. I took the Trans-Siberian to Beijing and crossed China from north to south and south east. (...) Here are the traces, perfumes, impressions of this extremely contemporary and ancient China that I wanted to return in this photographic work, far from the usual documentary. "\rFrançois Fontaine
The relationship between the different meanings and expressions of the word ‘skin’ is the theme of this exhibition. From the mummies of Alessandro Albert to the Miss Italys of Gianni Berengo Gardin, from Zed Nelson’s skin worked by plastic surgery to Annette Schreyer’s suffering skin of girls, Charles Frégers’ sumo wrestlers, 18 photographers speak of colours, pathologies, old age, discrimination and beauty. Some François Fontaine photographies from "night's flowers" story will be exhibited.
The Maison Européenne de la Photographie presents François Fontaine’s work on XXX through two series “ Salvador de Bahia’s Chrits” and “ Dreams of statues”.About the Christs, the photographer recalls “ the carnival was in full swiing in Salvador de Bahia. I decided to shelter in holy places, quiet and inspiring, that the city was offering me. It was there, the heart of churches and museums of sacred art, that I realised how much the figure of the Christ was pregnant and incontrovertible in this country that was moving me a little more each day.”Dreams of Statue is a series done in the night...