2020, 70 x 70 cm (framed size), ink painted collage on old French book and magazine paper dated 1940s - 1950s
We all leave prints and tracks in our daily life: from tracks in the sand or the snow to food fingerprints and carbon footprints...They are the clues that proves we were here, and are tangible records of our past presence, our real life. The French word, Empreintes, can simultaneously be translated as “prints” and “tracks”, and I love the ambiguity of the double meaning.
My passion for empreintes dates back to my childhood as an enthusiast of the wild forest. I grew up close to the Fontainebleau forest, at the southeast of Paris. It is one of the largest and most beautiful forests, and full of wildlife.
In the shadows of giant oaks, chestnut trees and pines, I loved walking and hiking there with my grand-father and father, both of whom were hunting deers, wildboars, and many other wild animals...We could see their tracks in the mud, and in the snow. I was quite good at identifying their tracks and was dreaming of them.
A print is just a soft indication, a suggestion of the animal/human who made it. It gives some basic details, such as size, age, weight and speed, and the rest is up for the imagination, to interpret and assume the final, whole picture. Indeed, there is a lot of room for creating and dreaming.
My black ink-painted collages are created with the same "spirit": using a similar process, starting from an ink print of an hardwood piece. This wood piece was a genuine, full tree trunk, and a relic to my connection with the forest. This is combined with finger painting of dots, a technique inspired by aboriginal art, to spiritually represent dreams and Mother Nature.
The books, newspapers and other publications I use as background for these collages are al prints and tracks in their own ways. They are the testimony of the author, the journalist, and their antique textures is another “print” of passing time.
— Antoine Rameau
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in 1974, Antoine Rameau is a French artist raised between the green vineyards of Burgundy and the legendary blue seas of Brittany. Having lived in Paris, Toulouse, New York and Glasgow, Rameau travelled the world, exploring cultures, drawing, taking photos and nurturing his passion for wildlife, human nature, storytelling, mythology and history. He first arrived at South-East Asia in 1997 (before heading to the Silk Road) and has been living in Hong Kong, with his family, since 2010.
Inspired by an eclectic range of sources including comics, Pop Art, Street Art and the Recycled Art movement, Rameau started experimenting with collage early on. He explored different techniques, from Surrealist juxtaposition to Cubist construction, and slowly developed his unique style while collecting evocative images of mixed origins (namely Western and Asian) and turning them into oneiric new visual worlds. Each collage tells an elaborate story filled with multiple symbols, historical and mythological references, and often satirical messages, which viewers can interpret based on their own experiences.
His works are fully hand-made: all pictures and papers are cut, transformed, sometimes even painted, and glued together through a complex and meticulous “recycling” process. Rameau loves the idea of “giving photos a true second-life” by being part of a new visual creation. “Sometimes, pictures that I mixed have absolutely nothing in common but I amazingly feel they were meant to be assembled together”, he says.
A lush representation of nature played a key role in his early fantastic works, where trees, flowers, rocks and wild animals took center stage. In sharp contrast with these idealized scenes of nature, the artefacts of technology and standardization embodied an invasive and sometimes threatening modernity.