Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf is a London based artist who grew up between Germany and the UK. She is principally known for her figurative paintings in which she explores themes surrounding female identity, desire and mortality. Her practice which is rooted in the traditions of portraiture, takes inspiration from Vanitas painting and mythology amongst many other sources.

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 represent the beginnings of how the female form became the primary bearer of meaning in my work; a vehicle though which to explore themes of identity, mortality and a search for meaning in itself.

She trained at University for the Creative Arts (200-04) and was awarded the Chelsea Arts Club Trust Award Grant to complete her MFA at Wimbledon College of Arts (2013-15). Rebecca is a Vice President to the Society of Women Artists, founded in 1857, where she takes on a curatorial role alongside being on the selection panel for their annual open exhibition at the Mall Galleries. The recipient of several awards, she has exhibited widely and 2017 saw her paint the first official portrait of MP and Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas. She continued her curatorial interest as a guest curator for Gallery Different’s, ‘Muse, Model or Mistress?’ exhibition in 2018. Her work can be found in both public and private collections.

I’m interested in making the often fluctuant, ephemeral and unseen experiences of being itself, visible. For me, this very subjective subject matter will always come from the perspective of the female gaze.

I almost always work with subjects whom I know, and the connection I have with them is as much part of the work as the act of painting itself. On one level, my paintings begin as part of an on going reflection on questions around gender and representation. Working with each individual sitter also involves another level in which, through a combination of conversation, photography, and the subsequent play of materials on the canvas, unconscious or forgotten aspects of both myself and my models emerge in the work. The encounter between painter and sitter involves making visible otherwise invisible aspects of ourselves, to ourselves through each other.

My recent focus has been on menstruation both in terms of the actual experience of it and it’s symbolic value as a historic marker of otherness, exploring it’s links to the feminine divine and it’s long legacy of demonisation which continues to shape attitudes towards women’s bodies to this day. This largely hidden aspect of womanhood which is deeply personal, is also something we share collectively. Through my painting I have the opportunity to explore the many facets of this experience, to celebrate it and open up conversation whilst also acknowledging the negative legacy left by deeply entrenched mythological portrayals of women, such as the Medusa.