Françoise’s beautiful vibrant paintings were first introduced to me by Jorge. She was exhibiting in Barcelona and we were there on holiday so we stopped in to see her work. I was struck immediately by the bright colors and thick textures. Born in Marseille, in the South of France, Françoise has lived in Paris for many years now. Unfortunately my high school French is now pretty obsolete so she kindly answered the interview questions in English, her second language. Using a knife instead of a paintbrush, Françoise paints faces on a large scale, using energetic motions that transfer to her work. Her main goal for her artwork is that it brings happiness to those who view it. Works for me!
LO: Tell us a bit about your background as an artist in many different capacities which eventually led you to your current career as a painter. What are you working on now?
FN: After 15 years in advertising as a photographer and illustrator freelance, I could change my way. But I always work in drawing and in color and my course has always been Beaux Arts which led me to paint. These are my capacities and my desire to paint that led me to paint. Now I am painting.
LO: Who are the people you paint? Why do you choose them? Why faces?
FN: These people are people that I found in model agencies or on the internet. Sometimes they are friends. I did not always create faces. I created nudes at the beginning and after that I created faces. The face is just a pretext to work the color.
LO: There is so much energy and movement in your paintings. Tell us about your approach to the canvas and your method of painting.
FN: The paint reveals the character of the painter. I look like my paintings and it is true that the start of the painting is more a performance by its energy and speed. We can say that is an energetic performance.
LO: I hear your father had a great influence on your work. Can you tell us a bit more about him and how he inspired you?
FN: Yes, he was an architect and he created very contemporary houses. He influenced me by his deontology and by the wonderful contemporary houses that he created. If you look very well at the paintings, they are very architectural and moreover architecture is one of my central interests.
LO: The first thing that hits me when I look at your work is your incredible use of bold colors. Why is color so important to you? How has your style and use of color developed and changed over the years?
FN: The colors are part of my life and even if I live in Paris I come from the south of France. To work the color, it is a little bit like juggling. At the same time, it is very complicated and very interesting to play with colors that are not easy to combine. Over the years, the evolution has been very important and the control of the color and of the subject led to other research. Now I work on bigger sizes and with bigger knives that make me work differently.
LO: Your paintings have a sense of street art style about them. Is that an interest of yours? If so, who is your favourite street artist and what is it about that person that you admire?
FN: Thank you for moving me closer to the street Art that I particularly like. I work in a place where there are a lot of street art. I don’t have a preference for a street artist or for another one. I don’t know enough the subject to make a choice.
LO: You say you’re not necessarily inspired artistically by Paris, your home city. Do you have a favourite city that does make you want to be creative? What effect does urban life have on your work?
FN: Paris is a city that doesn’t inspire me particularly. I don’t know if cities are source of inspiration. As far as I am concerned, no. Finally, I did not paint in another place than the city to be able to answer your question.
LO: What is an artist’s role in daily life, politics, history, fashion? What do you hope, on a general scale, to communicate through your body of work?
FN: It is the energy that I want to communicate through my works. As for me, the role of the artist is to cheer up the daily life. I don’t particularly have messages because there are a lot of conceptual artists that do this better than me. However, the message may be subconscious.
LO: As an artist, you’re constantly stimulated visually, but what inspires your other senses? Smell? Taste? Touch? Sound?
FN: A little bit of everything. I like cooking, listening to music…
LO: In a few sentences, tell us about your life outside of art, a few main interests and how you spend the first hour of every day.
FN: The first hour of everyday, I take my breakfast in thinking in dreaming. Sometime I read a lot. I do a lot of sport. Cinema, exhibitions. There is nothing incredible. I do the same as everybody.
Visit Françoise’s website for more: http://www.francoise-nielly.com/