Francois Mathieu (1962 - 2007)
Francois Mathieu and the Lost Art of Pointillism
Pointillism is a unique and very distinctive style of painting that involves the formation of brilliant, vibrant imagery and the communication of rich, poignant emotions through the juxtaposition of tiny dots of distinct colors. As it relies on the innate ability of the viewer’s mind to mentally transform the individual points of color into a broader, richer picture that includes a much larger palette of shades and hues than is actually present, it is an incredibly difficult technique that requires an extremely skilled artist to pull off successfully.
Pointillism is known to art enthusiasts mostly through the work of skilled French masters of neo-impressionist art such as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. As it is such a difficult painting method to truly master, very few artists these days even attempt to take it on. However, French artist Francois Mathieu is one modern artist who fully mastered the intricacies of pointillism and even managed to take it to bold new heights to create something truly unique and as yet unparalleled by the work of any other modern artist.
Although the work of Francois Mathieu has much in common with the work of the great pointillism masters who came before, it possesses a level of vibrancy, as well as a life force that the work of the original pointillists does not possess in quite the same way. Seurat, for instance, was very scientific in his approach to his paintings. While undeniably beautiful, expressive, and skillfully rendered, some of Seurat’s figures can appeal stiff, abstract, and even anonymous at times.
Mathieu, on the other hand, strives to imbue especially his figures with living spirits and very distinct voices that come through loud and clear when you look at his work. In pieces such as his Mistress of the Party and Go Skating, he uses his skill with color and unique artistic style to bring to life vibrant feminine figures that gaze out of the canvas at the viewer with eyes that suggest an unstoppable life force and an endless font of stories to tell. His colorful, inviting landscapes and scenes, such as Flemish Small Street and Sultry City, draw viewers in immediately and invite them on a journey through very real places as colored and brought to life by the mind of an artist.
Mathieu further builds upon the foundation laid by the original pointillists by experimenting with the feel of the brushstrokes themselves. Instead of relying on tiny, uniform dots to create his images, he spun his rich visuals with larger, more organic dabs of paint that help to underscore the vitality he strives to breathe into his work and add a sense of subtle motion to his canvases. He also chooses to work with a bolder, juicier color palette than we see in the works of Signac, for example. This helps to create a sunnier, more festive feeling while the works of the older masters were characterized by a quieter, more transitory mood.
Many of today’s modern experts feel that in the work of Francois Mathieu, we see pointillism as brought to life by a true free spirit who has found a way to take this very regimented technique to the next level and turn it into something truly new and fresh - a significant contribution to the world of art and an astounding legacy that any artist would be truly proud of. As such, he represents the perfect bridge between the world of classic, iconic techniques and pure, unfettered, modern imagination.