I’ll be the first to admit that I am drawn to artist’s who seem to have a similar style or view of the world that I am evolving into. I love stylized images of women, their bodies, faces, personalities and essence. One strong element of Catherine Marche’s work is the female figure and the powerful meaning that comes with this universally treasured image. I am so glad to have found Ms. Marche and her extensive collection of work. I was especially drawn to “Woman Around Me” which I ask her about a little later in the interview section of the article. Her perceptions of people, diversity, strengths and vivaciousness come crashing through her paintings, drawings and etchings. Even her portraits are steeped with attention to who the person is, not just what they look like. I find everything I am looking for in Marche’s work. Ideas, concepts, poetry, simplicity, complexity, color, lots of color and life.
From looking at her images I feel like she must be busy at work creating art constantly. Every idea, every thought about a line, shape or design must come rushing out of her hand with fury and excitement. That is just my interpretation of how she works as an artist and that is only from looking at her work. That has to say something about her body of creation, that a person, a total stranger can conclude so much without knowing her at all. I could be totally wrong, but that’s not the point. Her work is infused with such reverence for motion, life, excitement, sensuality, romance, real life, details and entertainment. That may be the farthest thing from what she is trying to offer the viewer, but for me to see all of that through a few images on a web site is quite a gift. Some artists’ web sites are spry with nothing more than a couple of bits and pieces and long biographies and resumes. While Marche has a long list of impressive credits herself, her work is what draws you in and impresses you to the point of wanting to see and know more.
The variety of her work, from loose drawings, sketches and seemingly random stream-of-consciousness images to well defined, beautifully executed portraits this is an artist with so much passion for her work it’s thrilling to experience it all for the first time. I find the most interesting artists bridge the gap from one genre, technique, method to another in an attempt to explore it all.
I found from reading Catherine’s responses to the interview questions that she is as interesting and thoughtful as her work reflects her to be. Some might say an artist is an open book, who they are is sprawled out all over the canvas and paper for the world, and they would mostly be right. I have come across artists who do not offer themselves to their work, rather confine their ideas to technical or methodical means. I love to see work that mirrors the personality of the artist and their view of the world.
I excited to find Ms. Marche and her work. I plan to do lots of admiring of her drawings, etchings, paintings, and hopefully acquire a print to hang on my own wall. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it, inspiration is what I look for in the artists I interview, and Catherine has done just that, inspire me.
Cid: Where do you reside?
Ms. Marche: Even though I am French, I now live in London, England.
Cid: When you were growing up, did you feel that your creativity got special attention?
Ms. Marche: My parents and teachers always encourages my creativity. Being painting, music, dance and writing. My father pays the piano and composes lyrics and My mom believe it is important to let her children express their talents. At some stage, I was given walls I was able to paint the way I wanted. It was fabulous.
Cid: I admit to the lack of better phrasing for this question, but: Is Art the way you make a living?
Ms. Marche: mmmm, not really, even though it is related. I trained as a scientific too and made my living teaching mathematics and then as an IT engineer.
Cid: Have you been a part of the “art scene” where you live? Do you attend gallery openings, check out the latest offerings of local talent, hang out where the creative community migrate to? How would you describe the art community where you live?
Ms. Marche: The art community is very active in London. There are many many private views every week. There are about 50,000 in London alone. The funny thing is that you end up seeing always the same people at different outings. The challenge is that you do have to stand out of the crowd. I would add that I find it sad that the London place is governed mainly by the value ($$)on the marketplace of an artist rather than its art itself. It is often a matter of where you studied and whom you know, unlike the USA and France, for example.
Cid: As an artist, do you feel people see you in any certain stereotypical way?
Ms. Marche: Yes of course. I am allowed to be “messy” and eccentric.
Cid: Do you feel there is a stigma or blessing attached to being an artist amongst the “normal” people of the world? Hahaha
Ms. Marche: Hahaha Maybe people think we are on a different planet or have been blessed by the gods. Maybe “normal” people are afraid of trying to express their creativity.
Cid: Are you an adventurous artist, trying new tools, mediums, ideas to keep your passion for creating alive? Or, are you reserved, preferring to stick with what you know, what makes you feel comfortable and safe in your skill “zone”?
Ms. Marche: I am extremely curious. I love trying everything that comes around. At 9, I was adding sand and glue in my paintings, just because it happened to be around.
Cid: Are you interested in computers and the internet? If yes, how does the technological world come together with your creative thinking?
Ms. Marche: No problem with computers. I am just typing this on my keyboard (ha ha). The internet is a great resource and help me to keep in touch with artists and galleries around the world. Not to mention it forecasts my art to billions of internautes.
Cid: What plans do you have for the future? Any new mediums or areas of the artistic world that you would like to explore?
Ms. Marche: I want to do more illustration work. I just completed an assignment for an advertising company and enjoyed it very much. I have also been able to use illustrations in the designs of wedding invitations for friend getting married and that was really nice too.
About your work
Cid: “Atlas” is a new twist on a classic theme. What inspired the concept and how would you describe what the image represents?
Ms. Marche: Atlas is the mythology God who carries the Earth on his shoulders. I represented the God as a Goddess, who is carrying an egg as the source of Life. This is about fecundity and the eternity and strength of life
Cid: “Women Around Me” is one of my all time favorite pieces. I can’t always explain why something catches my eye and imagination, but this time it’s a lot of specific things. The colors are inviting, the shapes are lovely, the idea of variety and being surrounded by a culture of strong, individual women is, well, comforting for some reason. What gave you the spark to draw Woman Around Me and do the women represent real life people that you know?
Ms. Marche: I have always been fascinated by people and when you read women’s magazine you mainly see the tall slender type but around me I have seen all sorts of great women, all very interesting and feminine, whatever their body shape and origins. This is an “Ode to women”.
Cid: “Fireworks” is a good example of simplicity in design, shape, color and composition. Do you plan for those elements when you are working on a piece, or do they all just come together as you progress through the project?
Ms. Marche: I work a lot from imagination. Some times, I make small sketches which will be the source of bigger paintings, sometimes I just start on a blank canvas and splash colours as they come to my mind. There are days where I feel red, and some where I need to be Blue. It all comes together during the process of creation. Sometimes, I get so absorbed that I paint without thinking, just listening to music and I get surprised when I look at the result s few hours later. I get the “did I do that?” effect which is a pleasure and sometimes a disenchantment.
Cid: “Ladies In Red” looks as though it might have started as a sketch and progressed to be a finished painting. Do you start your projects with a definite plan for how they will turn out, or do you wing-it, so to speak, to let the idea evolve on the canvas? Plan vs. Wing-it, which do you prefer?
Ms. Marche: Ooh, I almost replied to this one in the previous question. Yes, this painting started as a black and white line drawing of about 2 inches by 3, in the corner of a sheet. What evolved on the canvas in Ladies in Red were the colours.
Cid: So many of your drawings, paintings and other work are so full of emotion and tactile representation, do you feel that art is a way for you to absorb and understand the world. In contrast, do you ever feel that your artistic view of the world alienates you from most people because they are simply not as in tuned with the infinite details that artists often notice in comparison to the average person?
Ms. Marche: I find it difficult when asked to explain what is behind a painting. First of all, I believed it is personal. And in the other hand, i think I should not influence by my interpretation what the viewer will see. I like my paintings to provoke reactions in people. It is important to see what happens inside the spectator. I love it when during one of my private views I am next to visitors who don’t know me and I listen to their comments. Even when they are negative, I am glad it was not indifference. I moved them this is what matters to me.
Cid: “Looking Around” is an interesting drawing. It fits into your over all style and flair for observing the people in the world. How do you decide which of your finished work does actually goes along with the images you eventually share with the world? How do you, if you do, decide what is not going to make it out of the studio to be seen by any one besides you?
Ms. Marche: Harsh question. How? I take the risk. I am insecure about what I show but want to share it nevertheless. I always remember how I felt when making it and some of it must come out when displayed to the world. For example, Looking around is a piece you can watch for hours without being bored, without seeing everything. Somebody can have it on their walls and reflects in it for ages. It is like if you could establish a kind of monologue with this drawing.
Cid: A lot of artists find ideas that intrigue them enough to develop whole series of works based on a single idea or image. Do you have series of projects that follow similar themes or that explore all the possibilities of a single idea, method or technique?
Ms. Marche: Atlas and Fireworks are part of the same series playing on silhouette and space. Another series is based on bits and pieces of women, using mainly etching as a medium.
Cid: Do you find any type of drawing more interesting than others? For example, do you prefer to draw from real life or from photographs, even imagination?
Ms. Marche: Imagination. I love creating. I enjoy life drawing which I transform in a free style way. as in my ink drawings series where the body is mainly suggested instead of depicted. I am interested in a work of art, not in copying reality, which I have done in the past. The only moment I am really thrilled by reality is when I work on a portrait, from a real person posing for me. It is a great and fascinating exchange with the model to try to capture their personality and what I see in them. This is why some portraits like Saffron turn out blue instead of Flesh colored.
Cid: Your ink work is a lot of fun to browse through. I personally love your style. If you look at your Sitting Lady I and Sitting Lady II they are very similar to a couple of drawings I have done, which may be why I’m drawn to your work so strongly. Do you think that there are “types” of artists in the world? By that I mean do you find that there are distinct styles that separate groups of artists like photo-realists vs. pure abstractionists, painters vs. drafts-people, crafts vs. fine arts? Where, if anywhere, would you place yourself in the spectrum of art society?
Ms. Marche: It is hard to categories as each on is an individual.
I must admit from experience that I have seen some artist cannot draw form reality, some cannot imagine, some need tools and tricks like squaring the canvas to reproduce the artwork… It is all due to your natural aptitudes and your skill knowledge.
I would define myself as a globe-trotter. Going from one place to anther, building my experience and inspiration from what I get exposed to. like many, I will not stick to one style my entire life. I have a strong attraction and admiration to fauvists and expressionist and wish to belong to this movement before traveling further and further.
Cid: I see on your site you sell prints of your work online. Do you feel that the internet community is a positive place to exhibit, sell and get feedback about your work? Do you prefer gallery openings, shows and interacting with people when displaying your work, rather than the more distant relationship you have with your viewing public via the world wide web?
Ms. Marche: Many contacts I had on the WWW have been enthusiastic, some have been a waste of time. I am glad I have the chance to be seen by more visitors than in the real world but… I prefer galleries, I prefer an interactive contact with people. Nothing beats seeing the expression on their face when they discover my art.
Thanks so much to Catherine Marche for her time and effort in contributing to this article. I appreciate it so much.
All images used courtesy of Catherine Marche 2002
©Cindy Hayes 2002