in situ

For the Sculptor Vincent Fecteau, the Obsession Never Stops

“If I have to spend a day doing emails, I’m miserable,” says Vincent Fecteau, the 51-year-old artist who works out of his home studio in San Francisco’s Mission Terrace neighborhood. There he creates abstract, polymorphous objects—composed of papier mâché, acrylic paint, wood, epoxy clay, and the occasional found object—that summon the shape of deconstructed boxes, malleable collisions of industrial forms, or alien creatures. Fecteau’s work either sits on gallery pedestals or hangs on walls, and a second, separate practice sees him creating wall collages out of magazine and catalog clippings. (One notable collage was made up entirely of wide-eyed cats.) Fecteau grew up on Long Island and went to a high school with no art program; at Wesleyan University, he considered studying architecture but preferred working with his hands to poring over books. He spent a summer after college in New York City, but, repelled by the crowds and weather, decamped to San Francisco in 1990. Away from the relentless art-world money market, he fell in with a group of queer artists such as Nayland Blake and Richard Hawkins, and soon started experimenting with designs that would lead to his own breakthrough as an artist. “When I first moved to San Francisco, it was like the end of the world— it was kind of like a place where people went to disappear, and that was appealing to me,” he says. “It’s not that way so much anymore.” At his first show in 1994—at a tiny gallery named Kiki-Fecteau found an enthusiastic audience for his rigorous complex orchestrations. Nevertheless, he has remained as a somewhat off-the-radar visionary over the years, so much so that in 2019, on the occasion of his first local show in 17 years,  The San Fransisco Chronicle asked, “Why isn’t he famous in his hometown?”

All artwork: “Untitled,” 2020. Artwork Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Berlin.

It’s a question that doesn’t interest Fecteau, who counts among his biggest artistic inspirations the writer Dennis Cooper (“He is someone who truly embraces how art is about following something very deep within yourself ”) and, surprisingly, online fashion shows. “I’m not a fashionable person whatsoever,” he says. “It’s about the materials, colors, textures, and form, and the way forms move.” Having just wrapped up a fall show in Berlin at Galerie Buchholz, where he mounted a series of wall hangings, Fecteau is now gearing up for a career survey in Kassel at the Fridericianum museum this spring. In the meantime, the temperamentally reserved artist is back in his studio working on… “stuff,” as he calls it. “I don’t even think of it as art. A thought comes to me, and I follow it. It leads to something else, which leads to something else, and I keep on going until the obsession stops.”


Photography Assistant: Joshua Lacunha