Joseph Fontinha: Why Painting and Why Now?

We continue to invite you to get to know our newest members. Joseph Fontinha tells a  bit about his background and what he is up to these days.

 I grew up in Brockton MA, got my BFA in painting from Mass Art, my Masters in Art Ed from BU, and my MFA in Visual Arts from Lesley (now LUCAD.) I teach drawing and painting at Stoughton High School, and spend my summers with my extended family that live in Nagano Japan. This annual trip has become a big part of my routine, artistically and otherwise, and I have been making this trip for about 11 years now. This 8 week cultural immersion has had a profound effect on my output and outlook as a visual artist.

Lately I have been expanding what I do from oil painting to some video and installation work that is all residual of painting, but I hope tells a broader story, and one that holds the viewers attention in a different way.

I have really been moving away from the commodification of my work, the making of objects for sale, to telling stories through processes, and then figuring out what is salvageable from the project that could be shared. Often there is a painting to show, but more often my work lately has moved away from this traditional idea of product. I have been busy working on animation that is derived from the painting process, and documenting/archiving the process of a painter.

I am trying hard to ask the viewer to join me while I convey real, and true human experience-what it looks like, and most importantly, what it is to live a coherent and linear existence, one that has a temporality that is sustained, and in full contrast to the immediacy and convenience of contemporary visual culture.

For several years, my primary concern was being able to isolate moments into traceable and immediately understandable paintings that again documented real experience but as a fragmented or instantaneous one. These were paintings that appeared as though they were a single stroke, but were the result of lots of planning, practice, and contemplation.

Of late, the number one question that I ask before I make anything is, why painting, and why now? What can I say with paint in 2017 that can only be said with paint? What is it about paint that keeps it (assuming it does) viable and effaceable as a means of cultural expression? I am currently working on what I am calling the “Blue Tarp Project.” It involves video, photography, animation, painting, drawing, looking, writing, and mostly thinking. How do I live with this thing, in what way could paint be crucial in recreating my personal story? How is this different from how we typically document experience, how we collect and organize imagery, or how we decide what is valuable?