August 6, 2022
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Painter Christine Ferrouge explores the magical world of childhood, girls in tow

By on August 11, 2021 0

A narrative and insightful chronicle of the magical world of childhood unfolds in the work of Oakland painter Christine Ferrouge. Much like an anthropologist, her work is guided by our human instinct for survival and adaptation to our social and physical environments.

The artist has always used the people around her as a subject, and at the moment the three main characters in her paintings are her daughters, delving deep into the psychology of identity. The figures, evocative in vivid colors rendered with the gestural marks of a designer, are larger than life and take their space with confidence and strength.

“My inspiration is sparked by the imaginative adaptations of the imaginary and their thoughtful gazes as they contemplate their surroundings,” she said.

Ferrouge grew up in Minneapolis and, since childhood, recognized art as a vocation. She completed her BFA at the University of Evansville, Indiana and after a winter teaching art in Chicago, she moved to Los Angeles for the Sunlight. A few years later, she was introduced to her husband and decided to move to Oakland because it felt much more integrated than other cities. A 15-year-old resident, the last seven have been in the Melrose neighborhood of East Oakland. Equally important to her are the Galleries District, artist spaces, small businesses and her art studio on 25th and Telegraph in Uptown Oakland.

A day in the studio is a day of speed and intuition, applying paint and then taking the time to step back and observe. Seeing and responding to what is going on in a painting is the important and challenging part. Even on days when she doesn’t have time to work in her studio, Ferrouge checks the paintings in progress daily, sometimes flipping a painting to see it differently. Years of drawing and evaluating figures with a critical eye has created a climate of perception that is both precise and fresh.

Christine Ferrouge, ‘Sweet Afternoon’, 2017

His daughters grew up in his studio and Ferrouge says they understand his work and give good advice when asked. “We see the people in my paintings as distinct from the models who bear their likeness and refer to them in the third person,” she said.

Inside the natural light and large walls, Ferrouge confesses his love for the alluring scent of flax seeds and works without solvents, taking the safety of his body, his children and the planet seriously. This awareness started a long time ago but has grown stronger recently after reading a book by Kimberly Brooks titled The new oil painting, a book she recommends as a resource for all painters.

“I worry about what is in the water, the air and the food I give my children. I wonder about social influences, ”said Ferrouge, amazed at how humans throughout all time creatively adapt and survive in a myriad of challenges and environments.

Ferrouge homeschool her three daughters and loves sharing long road adventures with them to practice survival skills without the influence of her husband. Although she cannot live far from the city all the time, Ferrouge says having new experiences is good for thinking and creativity. Photoshoots for new paintings often happen when she is exploring new landscapes with her daughters.

Ferrouge at the Gray Loft Gallery in 2020, with his painting ‘Serving the Cake’

As a people-loving extrovert, isolation from the pandemic was taxing for Ferrouge. Cancellations of shows at Werkshack, a shared workspace in Oakland where she is the gallery’s chief curator and resident artist, the Oakland Art Murmur Saturday Stroll and Art Route Oakland she runs, have all taken their toll.

“When the doors closed, it was very sad. It was hard to create when you felt like there would never be an audience, ”she said.

Due to pandemic restrictions, his solo exhibition at the Gray Loft Gallery in spring 2020 had a very limited number of guests. Picnic, the title piece of the show painted before COVID, was inspired by invisible threats, making it resonate prophetically. In the painting, young girls are having tea in the desert next to the junk. They wear protective gloves and have strange cleaning accessories nearby.

The painting went to DeYoung Open now, an exhibition highlighting the importance of the continued support of local artists during the crisis, a sentiment for which Ferrouge is very grateful. When the Oakland Galleries reopened to the public, the exhibitions Ferrouge put on at Werkshack were well received and the space’s most successful exhibitions to date.

Ferrouge is currently working on a series of paintings based on the brook fire in the Sierra National Forest in 2020. While visiting the site, she made source photographs with models dressed in red draperies against the landscape of blackened trees. , smoky skies and ashes. covered ground. The series addresses the themes of survival, destruction and our human responsibility to nature. A two-person exhibition showcasing this work opens on October 8 at the GearBox Gallery, where Ferrouge presents his work each month as a member of the collective.

For more information, visit her website at, her page on Instagram, or visit her studio at Werkshack, 481 25th Street in Oakland.