Straight from her education at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Jeanette Lafontine (b. 1981) had a six months Residency Unlimited stay in New York City. Her first solo exhibition in the metropolis attracted attention, and several of her paintings sold right away.
I visited the young artist, who for a short period this summer has a showroom at her disposal in Oslo’s new residential development area, Sørenga, next to the new bathing area, Sørenga sjøbad.
Jeanette’s paintings are characterized by her experimental three dimensional expression, where she, in addition to acrylic colors is using different kinds of materials, such as plastics and metal. She says that she began her art studies as a jewelry designer, where she made sculptures in small scale. Later she began to make larger sculptures in bronze, but now she has found her way of expression in what she calls sculptural paintings.
“I’m working on dividing the surface I’m working on so that the background and subject mingle,” she says. “I read a lot and relate to the history of painting,” she continues, “But I do not work from one era or a specific artist as a source of inspiration. It is a flowing process. Inspiration comes in many forms. I like beauty, and beautiful things. I have a love for materials: texture, color, weight, smell and tactility. I allow myself to add whatever I want, being comfortable with gesture – not having to explain every move. Each gesture contains an importance of its own realization. No editing, just adding, like memory and our unconscious – layers of information.”
Her idea is that art should bring forth thoughts outside of the object itself, whatever art form. Today she creates paintings in which she uses the painter’s color tubes like brushes, which produces a different three-dimensional effect than if she were building up the motifs with other materials.
“It is a natural consequence of my three-dimensional work,” she says. “I’m constantly seeking new expression techniques. Civilizations, cities, myths, imaginable realities and fictional landscapes have been some of the themes that have inspired my process. I have been interested in human imagination and our ability to fantasize, and the idea of a collective unconsciousness, creating abstract mythological landscapes and compositions that hover between something familiar versus the more incomprehensive. To me it is important to reinvent myself,” she concludes.
As a painter Jeanette relates to the history of painting. In passing, she mentions Cy Twombly as one of her favorite artists. Jeanette’s own body of work have concerned both scientific subjects and more fictional matters. It is perhaps not surprising that Jeanette Lafontine is interested in mythology, conspiracy theories and science fiction, since she is not so concerned about what is true or not. She finds the world a strange place to be, and through art she is trying to make sense of the
world around her. She is exploring imaginary landscapes and dreamlike places through abstraction; a process where the subliminal and the conscious meet.
Her manager says that Jeanette is a special artist with international potential. Many gallery owners, collectors and curators have already noticed the promising young Norwegian artist. After the brief exhibition at the tip of Sørenga she will go to Berlin for another six months artist-in-residence program.
The exhibition “SOLID ILLUSIONS” at Sørenga in Oslo runs from 26 May through 5 June.
Young Norwegian Painter with International Ambitions, Jeanette Lafontine, was interviewed by Tor Kjolberg
Portrait photo (on top) by Tor Kjolberg
All other photos: Jeanette Lafontine