By Gina Malone
Born on the island of Madagascar and raised in Paris, Frederic Payet has lived in the US since 1989, and now calls Asheville home. His Impressionist paintings of serene countrysides and vibrant cityscapes reflect the places where he has lived and traveled: lush lavender fields, lively city cafés and streets, tranquil waterways and the serene Blue Ridge Mountains. He also paints still lifes and abstracts.
Self-taught, Payet began devoting himself to his art full-time when he moved to the US. He has an uncle and a sister who are also artists. It was while working in his uncle’s gallery in Atlanta that Payet became inspired to pick up a palette knife. He recalls a time early in his career when a woman came into the gallery and, seeing a piece he was working on, asked about it. “Since I was not yet a professional, I felt embarrassed,” he says. “I told her it was not for sale, but she insisted. This is when I sold my very first painting.”
His greatest influences have been the French Impressionist painters of the past. Unlike some of their work, however, he emphasizes in his own work bold color and energetic movement on the canvas. “To me, color is one of the languages of the soul,” he says. “Colors influence our mood and emotions.” He is drawn to blue and purple hues, as may be seen in his paintings of the coastal regions and meadows of southern France.
To create his paintings he uses both palette knife and fingers to cover the canvas with acrylic paint and a special modeling paste, giving his work textural presence and allowing him to feel freedom as he expresses his ideas. “I would say that I promote joy and happiness through my work,” he says. “I make people dream.”
He finds inspiration for his colorful subjects all around him. “Nature is very inspiring,” he says. “The beauty and the smells can take you to another level of being.” He feels a flow of energy when he begins a new work. “When I feel the flow, I know it’s time to create whatever comes to me.” He also works with clients on commissioned pieces that reflect elements of their own lives. He offers prints and originals, as well as large-scale paintings that work well as statement pieces in home décor.
His work has been exhibited in China and is currently available in galleries in Atlanta and North Wilkesboro as well as in his studio at Riverview Station, where he hopes to have a grand opening in the near future. The pandemic has not affected him adversely, he says, only giving him more time for creating and for himself, and Instagram and Facebook have helped keep him connected to fellow artists and the art community at large. “My work reflects my world travels, my spiritual journey and all of the beauty that inspires me,” says Payet.
Find Frederic Payet Fine Art in Asheville’s River Arts District at 191 Lyman Street, Suite 101. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Learn more at FredericPayetArt.com.