Canadian Art - - Spotlight -

Mon­treal- and Ber­lin-based artist Nika Fon­taine has a fas­ci­na­tion with death and spir­i­tu­al­ism dat­ing back to her child­hood—themes that re­cur across her paint­ings, sculp­ture and pho­to­graphic works. Fon­taine bal­ances a gen­uine spir­i­tual in­ves­ti­ga­tion with glam-rock gar­ish­ness. Her work Pimp My Ride to Heaven (2014)—a heav­ily dec­o­rated, vel­vet trimmed, Led-il­lu­mi­nated, mu­sic-emit­ting coffin—is both a celebration of her for­mer mas­cu­line iden­tity and a marker of the be­gin­ning of her trans­fem­i­nine life. “Spir­i­tu­al­ity is at the core of my prac­tice,” Fon­taine says, “but dec­o­ra­tion and kitsch are other im­por­tant as­pects. I want to use these to cre­ate some­thing over the top.” Fon­taine’s paint­ings ne­go­ti­ate the in­flu­ence of her great-un­cle, Plas­ti­ciens pain­ter Jean-paul Jérôme: “I was al­ways sur­rounded by his paint­ings as a child. They are very beau­ti­ful, well-com­posed and clas­si­cal Mod­ernist works—but they made me want to cre­ate some­thing more ac­tive and chal­leng­ing to view­ers, some­thing ag­gres­sive. I love play­ing on the edge of good and bad taste.” Fon­taine’s Ac­cel­er­a­tors Vol­ume I (2015), of which one piece re­ceived an hon­ourable men­tion in the 2016 RBC Cana­dian Paint­ing Com­pe­ti­tion and was re­cently ex­hib­ited at Joyce Ya­houda Gallery in Mon­treal, is a se­ries of colour-field glit­ter paint­ings in­tended to ac­cel­er­ate the med­i­ta­tive process for the viewer, func­tion­ing as both an aes­thetic ob­ject and re­flex­ive tool. The works, which are rem­i­nis­cent of both galac­tic neb­u­las and Ab­stract Ex­pres­sion­ism, si­mul­ta­ne­ously tran­scend and cel­e­brate the ma­te­ri­al­ity of glit­ter, em­ploy­ing it as a sig­nal of kitsch and a medium for tran­scen­dence.

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