François Fontaine, is a fairly untypical case in terms of the French art scene, having started his academic studies in the History of Art at the University of Sorbonne where he wrote his thesis for his doctorate. This specialist in artistic theory rapidly became fascinated in the medium of photography and developed at the same time a passion for travel. Consequently we can say that he became more of a traveler, and a poet of images rather than a pure photographer.
He recorded his travels in south-east Asia during (1999-2001), and notably the city of Angkor in Cambodia, a collection of smiles « locked in a jungle for eternity ».
In 2001 he undertook a commission for a Spanish medical Organization, a collection of photographs studying the transvestites of Madrid:
Balanced on high-heels, bodies molded into skin-tight open cut dresses the transvestites of Madrid totter on the tarmac.
Fascinated by the bright lights of Spain and by the colors of this country he shot another series of pictures focusing on torn publicity posters in urban settings. The result was simply stunning, the force of the colors along with the level and quality of detail, creates a world of images that we are not used to seeing, despite the fact that these are things that we choose to ignore each day.
A conversation with Francois Fontaine appears simple, especially when he discusses the perils of his work or the chance meetings that can occur during his work. We were fascinated by his charm during our meeting at the gallery Claude Samuel in Paris.
This summer he presented his last series of photographs « see the first edition of chez Higgins », Lost in China (Leica Oskar Barnack Prize 2006 finalist. Shown at the International Photography show in Arles, France this year).
The theme was the mythical Trans-Mongolian train trip which is the Chinese equivalent of the Orient Express.
François Fontaine, a passenger on this train, an unknown amongst unknowns, contented himself in observing this microcosm of carriages, , travelers faces, and oriental landscapes that unrolled in front of his eyes.
With his camera, he delivers a poetic portrait of not only a continent, but also its people.
In the magnificent setting of his exhibition, Francois Fontaine, also shared his love of the cinema, for music, and of course his photographic influences.
During our discussions the thing that intrigued us most about this young talent, who will exhibit soon at the Maison Européene of Photographie in Paris, is his desire to discover the world beneath the surface of its appearances, behind his trusty Leica.
Take Francois Fontaine’s train with us and discover the real China like the explorers and adventurers of the nineteenth century with FineArtTv.