Françoise Ben Arous is a French born artist, who currently lives and works in New York City. She has traveled worldwide, delving into different local traditional cultures. Her artistic approach is cross-cultural, filtering through her own influences from Matisse and Paul Klee, from the decorativeness of the Art Nouveau style as reflected in Klimt’s paintings, and from the Japanese masters of the Edo period. Spiritualized and refined, her art is a mix of her Western heritage and Eastern Zen philosophy.The works of Françoise convey mostly the message of the joy of living in love and in harmony in a real or in an imaginary world. In this regard, titles like “Zen” or “Solaar” are very meaningful. At the same time, the particular property of these metal sheets to capture and to reflect light in a continuously changing way, depending on the viewpoint of the beholder and on the intensity of the source of light in different moments of the day, confers a sense of fluidity and of Impressionism. The artist’s signature, emulating the seals on Japanese or Chinese traditional paintings, is also significant in terms of her attachment to Asian culture. In Vietnam, she was at first attracted by the pictorial quality of the Joss paper. Cut in geometric shapes and attached to the surface of board or canvas, the sheets are re-contextualized in abstract compositions, sometimes evoking urban or geographic structures. The paper is either juxtaposed or superimposed, in the second case creating low reliefs. “I am constantly tempted by 3D work, so I could say that my works are collages and sculptures”, states the artist. Indeed, in her latest works, Françoise‘s creations show a wavy high relief, suggesting the movements of tectonic plates, but also reminiscent of a medieval armor or of dunes in the desert. Other works are more or less explicitly figurative, incorporating the human figure, even if in the guise of mythological or fairytale characters.
While in some compositions the artist prefers to keep the monochrome harmony of gold or silver, yet enhanced by infinitely shimmering nuances and textures (which she often creates herself by thin incisions), in other works she adds colored accents of acrylic or watercolor, which sometimes inspire titles such as “Blue” or “Indigo”. Color offers new keys of interpretation : in “ The Hamptons”, for example, the gold of the joss paper evokes sunny beaches and golden sands and the blue lines and dots suggest the fluidity of the ocean and of the sky. Ranging from light cerulean to deep ultramarine, blue occupies a special place in the palette that the artist uses when she decides to integrate color, evoking the infinity of nuances of the Atlantic or of the Mediterranean Sea.
Her works emit a positive energy and possess a playful and dreamlike dimension as well as a mysterious and intrinsic musicality.
In Zen, practitioners uses the mystery of “koan” questions or riddles in order to trigger a sense of deeper understanding, one that defies common assumptions about the world and about oneself. Her joss paper collages function as a visual “koan”, inviting the beholder to enter a state of mind which is harmonious as well as fresh and alert, like the golden and silvery flickers on the surface of the artist’s work.
artist Eduard Andrei.