Oil Paints, Fast Cars and a Cello

Classically trained Duaiv paints his world-renown masterpieces – sometimes on his cherished supercars – as he sways to the beat of his own music

By John D. Adams

Wielding a palette knife loaded with vibrant oil paint, American-French artist Duaiv streaks the blade across a white canvas. It is a dramatic moment where reality collides with inspiration. And it is set to music. In front of a rapt audience.

Fifteen minutes later, a tremendous seascape or raceway or expressionistic flowers have come to life. “Playing” in this type of venue is just one of the multitudes of inspirational vehicles which drive Duaiv. His destination? Always, perhaps, a desire to share his perspectives on the world and the delight he produces by sharing his energy with others. When working from his prismatic studio reflecting the waters of South Florida, Duaiv begins a new piece by placing his left hand on the pristine canvas. “I decide in my head, this will be an energy I will give to somebody who I don’t know yet,” said Duaiv. “I want to channel that energy, to express it through paint. I don’t think it is an accident that when people enter a gallery they are immediately pulled toward one piece or another. They are drawn to more than the image. There is something more ephemeral calling to them, too. And I believe that has been part of my success. Do you know, in 40 years, I have never had more than 10 paintings left in my studio each month?”

Inspiration And Intuition
Duaiv embodies a variety of artistic passions. A classically trained cellist, music came second to painting, but has never taken a back seat. It is not uncommon to find Duaiv busily painting, moving the oils in time to his own musical recordings. For those delicious moments, he is enveloped by both artistic expressions, creating something greater than the sum of its parts. “I speak best through my art,” he said in heavily French-accented English. “It is perhaps the purest form of expression. I grew up near Bordeaux in France, so I was always around the water and boats. That’s why I love to paint sailboats. I always have. I studied cello at the Paris Conservatory of Music and even became a professional symphony musician.”

Aside from his artist endeavors, Duaiv nurtures a lifelong passion for racing, cars, and motorcycles. It seems the speed at which he can work, the movement reflected through color and form in every one of his paintings, is again, a fortuitous intermingling with his other passions. Several years ago, the artist began a successful side project, painting luxury race cars, like Viper and Spider.

Color Story
“When you live a long time, you have many things to do,” remarked Duaiv. “If you are gifted like I was with music and art, you have to do this because it is part of your life.” It is this sense of urgency, of mission, that has opened many literal and figural doors for Duaiv. Many years ago, motorcycling through Spain with his newlywed, Duaiv decided to drive to artist Salvador Dalí’s home. With a courage born from youth and passion, Duaiv walked straight up to the front door and knocked.

“He opened the door himself,” Duaiv recounted. “I couldn’t believe it. It was one of the most important moments in my life. Dalí said to me: ‘If you trust yourself, if you believe in yourself, you will succeed if you want to succeed.’ That moment ignited a passion in me. We moved to Cannes and I began painting in the streets. Six months later, we were offered a spot in a gallery for one month. We sold out all of the work. And 15 years later, we are with galleries all over Cannes and Europe. We moved to the United States in 2003, and have been so fortunate to be represented by Park West.” Today, Duaiv continues to share his kaleidoscope eye. “Now we travel all over the world, meeting collectors and holding live painting events…

“Every performance is a challenge. You don’t know what you’re going to do. So people can see your mistakes and how you handle those mistakes. They are seeing the reality of the art process. You aren’t hiding anything. And I love that freedom, that openness to the world.”

Oil Paints, Fast Cars and a Cello