Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf | Statement
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Studio shot by Barnaby Newton

My practice as a whole explores themes surrounding female identity, desire and mortality through the framework of figurative painting. These themes come from a very personal place of loosing a parent very young, growing up in a predominantly female family, and having a mother and aunt who are both portrait painters. The resulting fascination with the power of images and the human from, especially female has been with me since early childhood.


In many ways the images of mythological female characters I used to draw as a child have evolved and turned into my current practice. These early explorations into idealised female identity representing the beginnings of how the female form became the primary barer of meaning in my work; a vehicle though which to explore themes of identity, mortality, desire and a search for meaning in itself.


Alongside Mythology, the tradition of vanitas paintings has largely informed my work. The young woman becomes a symbol for the fleeting nature of human life as well as creative fertility and potential. Youth and beauty allude to their natural counterpart of death and decay.


It is through the act of painting itself that many of the themes and meanings reveal themselves to me, and it is in this way that I realised that the themes of creation and death, so closely related to female identity through myth and history are directly reflected in my creative process. Just as the young woman holds both forces of life and death within herself symbolically, these oscillating opposites of activity and passivity, chaos and control, are a vital component in the act of making art. Whilst painting, I’m often aware that as much as I have to consciously manifest a mark or an image, I also have to surrender to and accept moments of chaos, allowing ideas or images to be destroyed in order for something new to be born.


For me the question of meaning always emerges as an essential part in this cycle of life, death and creation, in which the experience of our own mortality, and the transient nature of life play a vital role in the search for meaning and identity, and almost always provide the fuel for the desire to create.


My work allows me to explore these ideas, revealing and stumbling across new layers of meaning. In the end however my ambition in creating paintings is not to coax the viewer into thinking about any of the themes and ideas which pervade my consciousness, but to stir something within the viewer, to provoke feeling.