The Artist

Arveil_Portrait_Paris_2010Boston-based artist Christine Arveil has been integrating painting and writing in her creations for 35 years.

Born in Lyon, France in 1958, Christine Arveil became the first of her working-class family to enter university, graduating with a master’s degree in Classics and French literature.

In 1979, she joined the studio of Luis Ansa, master of lacquer restoration and brush calligraphy in Paris. From Ansa she learnt ink-on-paper and lacquer-on-wood Oriental landscape painting.

She continued studying in Parisian lacquer studios, in particular with Isabelle Emmerique, while independently experimenting with early European painting formulas uncovered through archival research. This led her to write a monograph of J-F. Watin, an artisan and author in18th century France.

Her philosophical and technical quest for the founding grounds of painting developed beyond color. For two years, she restricted herself to using stone-ground black ink, tracing single large words on white paper presented in a first solo show: A mots roseaux (Paris, 1987). Arveil’s work was also recognized at the 1987 Contemporary Calligraphy exhibition at the Japanese embassy where she was the guest western artist.

After this ascetic period, she reverted to colors during her first American stay (1987-88), choosing dry pigments. Delving into the European roots of painting, she reproduced medieval manuscripts “illuminations” and their process of creation as a performance act. Experts attested the accuracy of these replicas, which were exhibited in the 1994 Centre Pompidou exhibition Ecriture.

Questions of time and space in art creation led her to meet Arab calligraphers Abdallah Akar and Hassan Massoudy. They introduced her to a perception of space different from those found in Chinese and Occidental cultures. She deepened this understanding by working with Brahim Alaoui, Head Curator of Contemporary Art at the Arab World Institute in Paris (1993).

1992-95 were years of outreach to the international art community, leading art gatherings that brought together musicians and visual artists. She initiated the festival “Latitudes Nord”, in the Paris area after getting an MBA in 1993. Fiction and non-fiction writing also took momentum, steadily occupying her early mornings, while painting remained nocturnal.

In 1997, Arveil permanently moved to the United States. There, she integrated her life and artistic experiences into semi-abstract expressionist images for which she devised a unique painting technique and medium based on violin varnish. She joined Curtin & Alf Studio, to immerse in the violin making world. Already experienced with lacquer and the documentation of finishes, she brought an original perspective on varnishing musical instruments. Her research has appeared in The Strad, a reference publication for classical music, on the BBC and in lectures at violin makers conventions.

Since her move to Boston in 2001, creation is her only focus, generating powerful images that are visionary, yet rooted in life experience. Technical mastery has freed her from conventional approaches to writing and painting. She has now authored fifty short stories, a novel, autobiographical texts, essays and early poems, and has taught painting in museums in France and the United States.

In 2009, seventy pieces of The Volcano Project were installed for a six-week solo show in Portugal. This large scale ensemble — a novel, lacquer-on-wood red paintings, a stone-drawings series, sculptures and autobiographical materials — unites painting and writing in one strong entity reflecting on how the creative process arises — what the artist calls an experimental form of ubiquity. The Volcano was next shown in Boston in June 2010.

In 2012, she built her new Studio as a conceptual space where light, sound, architectural distribution and objects are designed to exactly fit the artist’s feel and work. The first work created there is the artist book Water Lines in colaboration with photographer Sal Lopes. The drawing series of one same stone from the Volcano continue daily.

Christine Arveil is married with master bow maker and MacArthur Fellow Benoît Rolland. She has two children and two step-children.