When You Grow Up in Paris but Discover Art in the American South …

Joyful color is like beautiful music to Frederic Payet.
Photo by Rimas Zailskas

Frederic Payet is a self-taught painter whose palette-knife works are impressionistic with a signature, secret vibrancy. Born on the island of Madagascar, Payet was raised in Paris from age two. He moved to the United States in 1989, at age 29, and has lived in Asheville for the past three years. Payet exhibited at the Foshan Art Fair in China in March and at an exhibition in Guangzhou in September.

How did you get started?

My uncle had a gallery in Atlanta, where I lived for 23 years before moving here. He asked me to work for him, and I was so inspired by the art I saw. I started painting, and sold my first painting in a few days. 

A few days? No classes or preparation?

No, nothing. But it came easily for me. I already knew how to paint.

Because you were exposed to so much art in Paris?

We lived in the suburbs, and I was not exposed to art, and didn’t really care about it. 

Did you visit the famous museums?

No, I didn’t go to museums. But now I love to.

What inspires you, then?

When my customers tell me a painting makes them happy, it makes me happy, too. And my work reflects my world travels, my spiritual journey, and all of the beauty that inspires me.

Has living in Asheville affected your artwork?

There was a shift; it feels like my work is more vibrant and more modern. I feel more freedom to let go and be looser.

What about your choice of colors?

I am always aware of the healing power of color, and I always ask for spiritual guidance. Color can bring joy to people like beautiful music.

South of France
Photo by Rimas Zailskas

Why is that?

Colors have different vibrations. Color is one of the languages of the soul. It influences our mood and emotions, the flow and energy of our body, and our sense of well-being and happiness.

How do you get such rich texture?

I use modeling paste. About 10 years ago, I discovered it and felt it would be more exciting and not as flat. I bought some plaster at Home Depot for training myself. After I practiced, I bought the good quality.

Why do you paint with knives?

At first I used a brush. Then one day I went to Miami and saw a Russian artist using a knife. I started painting with a knife, and it was so easy for me that I have used a knife ever since, for 25 years.

So you never use brushes?

Only for signing my paintings. It’s hard to sign with a knife.

TOP LEFT: Provence; TOP RIGHT: Carnations; BOTTOM LEFT: Coco Chanel; BOTTOM RIGHT: 3 Barques
Photos by Rimas Zailskas

Frederic Payet, Studio 3B in Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St. in Asheville’s River Arts District, 828-254-2166. Open Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm (riverartsdistrict.com). Payet will participate in the River Arts District Studio Stroll Saturday, Nov. 10 and Sunday, Nov. 11, 10am-5pm. For more information, call 678-438 6525, e-mail info@fredericpayet.com, or see fredericpayetart.com. Also on Instagram (@fredericpayetart) and on Facebook.

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