Business suits and bright colors is not the most obvious of combinations. However, it’s with these elements that Francois Anton surprises and commands the attention of his viewers. As he juxtaposes a gray and brown color palette with bright, nearly fluorescent colors, he creates an enchanting and thought-provoking body of work that depicts the possibilities of modern life. Anton focuses his work around the relationship between adulthood and childhood, and visually represents an intersection of the two. He observes how childish imagination can disrupt a modern and structured life to ultimately provide unexpected light and excitement.
Francois Anton is an Algerian born artist that is currently living and working in the South of France. With a thirty-year-old career in painting, Anton has been recognized internationally and has shown work in several prominent art fairs and galleries in France, Switzerland, Germany, and the US. Anton uses his artwork to convey his sharp playful sense of humor.
In Raconte Moi L’Ocean, Anton balances several elements in the composition that visually and conceptually contradict one another in order to convey the possible coexistence of childhood and adulthood in modern life. For example, though the male subject wears formal business attire—slacks, tie, and a button up shirt—he is comfortably seated with a slight hunch, and with his sleeves are rolled up. He leans towards the fishbowl with unexpected curiosity. The painting is further divided between subdued and vibrant color palettes, as the primarily gray and brown canvas is interrupted with a bright blue back wall. However, with the Anton’s skilled hand, the many contradictions live in perfect harmony with one another and create an overall balanced composition. The title of the piece, Tell Me About the Ocean, suggests that as the man leans in towards the fish, he waits for a story to be told. The bright background, not so coincidentally blue like the ocean, and suggests that the man's curiosity for the fish’s past life has illuminated the subdued, monotone atmosphere. With a fusion of serious and playful elements, Anton proposes that the two can coexist and brighten an otherwise mundane modern world.
L'Education Particuliere, in English, The Strange Education, presents a man that is encouraging his cat to chase down a toy mouse. He wears the same attire as in the previous painting, and with the same casual composure. The gestural brushwork accentuates his enthusiastic body language as he hunches over, bends his knees, and waves his arm towards the teetering toy. However, his skin and clothing are rendered with soft, delicate lighting and detail, softening his otherwise abrupt motions. The composition is filled in with a dull gray and brown palette and is contrasted with a bright yellow rectangle of color. Anton continues to visually balance contrasting elements to suggest that the serious and the playful, adulthood and childhood, can coexist to create an enchanting, illuminated environment.
Le Navigateur Solitaire, The Lone Navigator, illustrates a dog and a man, both looking at a paper boat in the water. The soft, blue green color palette is disrupted by pockets of bright red and yellow green. Though the subjects aren’t in motion, the gestural brushwork seems to activate the space, creating a restless, energetic environment. The paper boat is rendered to be the brightest part of the canvas, and thus commands immediate attention from the viewer. It’s so bright, in fact, that it seems to illuminate the space and cast a shadow behind the man. As the paper boat becomes the center of attention, the viewer inspects it, as do the man and the dog. The title suggests an element of childlike fantasy as it encourages the viewer to imagine a much smaller man inside the boat, navigating the waters on his own. Therefore, not only does Anton represent an intersection of childhood and adulthood through the combination of contrastingly playful and serious elements, but he also encourages the viewer to disrupt their own modern, adult life to practice their imagination.
Francois Anton’s extensive body of work presents a unique perspective on our modern world, and how we choose to live in it. Each painting proposes the potential luminosity and lightheartedness that a child-like imagination and playfulness can provide. Francois Anton’s work will be on display this coming fall in our Boston Gallery. They’re intelligent, thought-provoking, and beautiful to look at. Be sure to stop by to see them for yourself!
Francois Anton's Solo Exhibition Opens in our Boston gallery on Friday, October 5, 2018. The artist reception will be that evening from 6:00-8:30pm. please rsvp firstname.lastname@example.org
Text by Kabita Das