Fabienne Quinsac was the president of The Litterary and Artistic Society of Orléans, the vice-president of the artistic group Traits abstraits (Abstract Lines), and founding member of two other artist societes, among others...
FROM WATERCOLOR TO ABSTRACTION
"Trying to be myself, with all the hazards this implies"
Fabienne QUINSAC (an alias for Marie-France Maréchal) was born in 1940 in Dijon (Burgundy, France). She heard the calling of art very soon, by leafing through art books at her parents' home. Her mother, Renée, was teaching French, Greek and Latin in a high school, and her father, Pierre, was a librarian with an expertise in old French law, and working in Paris, a few steps from the Pantheon.
Fabienne Quinsac felt enthusiastic about abstract painting and contemporary art. As a teenager, she would visit art galleries and started to paint for herself. She was 21 when she took part for the first time in a collective exhibition.
Fabienne was admitted at the famous Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (Ensad, commonly called the "Arts Déco") in Paris and graduated in 1968. She also felt concerned with the social and progressive movements of the time, and always proudly defined herself as a feminist.
As a young painter, she believed that the classical, easel painting was outdated. So she turned to architecture, then taught art in secondary school - a way of imparting her passion and further her thinking about the links between arts and society. But, with two kids and her job, she had very little time for painting.
In the late 1980's and early 1990's, when she definitely left her job, she started to create again on a regular basis, with a lot of experiments (air brush, mural, and even settings for the International Chrysanthemum Exhibition in Orléans) and some watercolors that immediately showed a very personal vision. In Fabienne's work, the environment seems to be driven by a powerful inner strength, as if the shadows of her most intimate questionings were hiding behind every tree, every meander, every hill.
a violent romantism
Fabienne later explained : "I decided to consider what I had learned as a kind of humus and to forget the previous questionings, so as to try to be myself, with all the hazards this implies : accepting my qualities and faults, the hesitations and the fury to overcome the work that resists."
In her more or less figurative watercolors of the 1990's, she contrasted the influence of classical architecture and the violent romanticism of big sailboats on stormy seas, in a mix that reminds Claude Monet (Fabienne especially liked the Water Lilies series) and William Turner. This unique style soon gained Fabienne a significant place in the anthology Watercolor and watercolorists in France.
Fabienne's work already showed a great ability and maturity, with quick evolutions in technics, colors and subjects, with more and more abstract representations.
At the turn of the century, she abandoned watercolor and painted almost exclusively with tar. The experiments to discover what this strange material had to offer were essential to the artist. Tar was sometimes mixed with red earth, bronze powder, watercolor or acrylic. The paintings then evoked the atmosphere of supernatural tales, abandoned villages, barren mountains, impressive but dislocated landscapes.
This had little to do with figurative painting. Still, the visual power of Fabienne's works remained astonishingly evocative, sometimes calling to mind Gao Xingjian, for instance in the Remnants and Volcanoes series.
Before the mid-2000's, working with mixed technique, acrylic painting prevailed, even if some tar could remain here and there. Fabienne Quinsac's style got closer and closer to informalism ("art informel"), that is, a representation that suggests but doesn't show a latent theme, sometimes evoking Zao Wou-Ki in the shapes and movements (previously, Fabienne had even called one of her paintings Montagne de Zao Wou-Ki - Zao Wou-Ki's Mountain).
Then, from the mid 2000's, was the "all acrylic" period, that was going to last until Fabienne's death. Architecture, movement and light still took the lead, in a style sometimes not so different from Nicolas de Staël. However, the artist's work was increasingly bare, even in the use of color.
Fabienne tried to show very little, but only what was essential - a way to confront herself.
The Planets and hellfires series (around 2007-2008) led to a turning point, with incredible technical virtuosity and tremendous suggestivity. Fabienne worked on several colors, one by one, in quick series (searching one's way? Okay! Making twice the same thing? No way!): Black series, Grey and red, Aprons, Days of snow and ice.
The Monochromes series showed the culmination of her talent, with a rare and heartbreaking strength.
Fabienne Quinsac put down her brushes for good on August 30th, 2013. The day she died, two acrylic paintings on canvas -two masterpieces- were drying in her studio : Rupture (Break-up) and Incertitude / Absence (Uncertainty / Absence)...
See also :
A world where figuration and abstraction go side by side
Fabienne Quinsac's studio (2011).
« To me, painting represents a kind of introspection to know what is inside me. That's no navel gazing, since I'm aware that I'm just the result of a time, a society, an education. However, you need some foresight, which is not always very pleasant, because it generally happens there is nothing interesting to be found inside oneself. But, if you accept this emptiness, if you're ready to undertake it, it leads to freedom based on a kind of despair or of self-surrender, and a way to open yourself to what remains hidden inside us. » handwritten note