MASCHI FONTANABearing witness to a pair of Roe Deer, distressed and trapped in a fence located at the back of his family home in Neuchâtel, Switzerland in 2009, was a defining moment in Tom Mùller's long-time collaboration with painter, Jean-Thomas Vannotti.
The two artists had originally met and begun working together as part of the 296 graffiti collective in the 1990s. After nearly two decades of sporadic engagement and production, Mùller and Vannotti reconnected in 2009 to form Maschi Fontana. Through this reincarnated collaboration, the artists saw an opportunity to explore a cross-continental collective that could exist alongside their individual art practices at a different scale and pace.
After they laboured at freeing one of the deer, traumatised and bloodied from repeatedly hurling itself into a cyclone fence, Mùller and Vannotti heeded the event's significance. The shared experience signified a shift in direction in their collective creative process. It brought them together to a communal space from which to explore dialogue with each other in a more meaningful way.
From this connected experience, Maschi Fontana approach their art through a neo-mystic futuristic lens. Using various media, they bring together spiritual and cult practices from the past with technological and environmental themes of the future, to craft works that explore their own ritualistic artistic practices of the present. Fascinated by secret societies and the stealth of ancient martial arts practices, they create, sometimes utopian worlds that intermingle science fiction with the wild west, technology with elements from nature. Though young, Maschi Fontana have been prolific and painstaking, bringing together divergent art practices and drawing from the artists' long history and friendship to produce art that is as much about the process as the end result.