Viviane Fontaine / Passage

9th April - 8th May 2016

After more than 40 years in the world of paper art, Viviane Fontaine is an eminent figure. She has mastered the art of paper-making and the creation of works in paper. After extracting the fibre from plants she transforms it in different ways to create bowls, clothes, cocoons and landscapes which combine transparency and opacity, monochrome and colour. She has always underlined the dual nature of paper: here expressing its fragility, there its solidity. She also plays with the functionality of an object which may delete itself and become an ephemeral trace, a labile memory withdrawing from its primary use and keeping only the beauty of its form. The artist’s bond with nature – an overwhelming presence where she lives and works at Cerniat in the Canton of Fribourg – is a significant feature of her work. Her knowledge of plants and observation of them in their natural habitat is part of her creative process. Like working with ceramics, technical competence is essential but it is nevertheless subject to the alchemy of substances and their transformation. The artist must know how to play with these different elements to force the natural component to obey her imagination while respecting its constraints. Art can emerge from the balance between technical expertise and an intuitive knowledge of the material.

This retrospective exhibition honours not only the artist’s work, but also the role she has played in promoting paper art to the prominence it now has. During her career she has been a key figure in achieving international recognition of this art form which has attracted numerous practitioners over the last few decades. While artists from the Far East are clearly the masters of folding and cutting, the West is not far behind especially in work using paper made from fabrics or from plants. In order to move forward from pure craftwork, artists, including Viviane Fontaine, had to put much effort into organising international meetings which have led, over the years, to better knowledge amongst the public. Viviane Fontaine was a co-founder of the International Paper Triennal at the Musée de Charmey in 1993. She has been chair of the jury since then thus ensuring the quality of the works in competition and in the related exhibition. / N. Kunz