Unlike many artists whose passion for their craft blossoms at a young age, France native, Yannick Fournié’s melancholic, subtle surrealist, and spellbinding foray into visual art manifested itself late in his adult life. Following a career drenched in adrenaline –he was a paratrooper in the army, and practiced extreme sports professionally– at 38, he dropped everything and dedicated himself to awakening and honing a talent he believed existed within him. A self-taught painter, he spent a year working in solitude at a studio in Biarritz, observing, and learning what would soon become his signature style.
Looking at Fournié’s expressive, comic-like, and vibrant work as a whole, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t been doing this forever. Using acrylic and oil paint on canvas, he captures the chaos-infused society of the modern world, and the inherent darkness its inhabitants possess. Fournié feels that he is part of “a rich and dense generation where everything else jostles with everything else: Pop Art, Comics, Street Art, the brilliance of the Internet and social networking, of reality television, contemporary audio-visual trash”. [He] is the euphoric, baffled witness to a social, economic and ecological disintegration that [he] sometimes finds beautiful.
Grouped together through various series, his paintings explore themes of ambiguity, politics, violence, corruption, and identity. “Choice of Weapon” is a unique take on the ways people use their fists, sexuality, pistols, and technology to simultaneously defend themselves and inflict pain. In a piece titled “Modern Love,” aptly placed in the “American Exode” series, Fournié explicitly illuminates the issue of gun violence, more predominant and brutal than ever before, with a dangerously detailed image of a revolver.
Taking a more symbolic approach to the search for identity and meaning within it, “Incognito” is a series inspired by the brightly coloured masks of Mexican wrestling heroes, Lucha Libre. For Fournié, the masks, donned by suit-clad men and partially nude women, are a reflection of everyday life, and the struggle to be recognized in society. “Never Breathe” depicts his sentiment perfectly, with a realness that is almost shocking; a masked man drowning in an iridescent pool, succumbing to the pressures of hiding our true selves.
While Fournié only entered the art world a short few years ago, his career thus far has been most prolific, his colourful creations rife with a deep meaning and emotion that make viewers do a double take-aesthetically and psychologically.