A Studio in Provence | Catherine Monmarson
Tucked away in an ancient hillside in Southern Provence surrounded by olive groves and with stunning views over rural France lies Catherine Monmarson’s studio. The space is a treasure trove of mixed media artworks, which tumble out into the rest of the house where Catherine lives with her husband, who is also a renowned sculptor. In such a romantic setting and amidst the creative chaos of Catherine’s artistic process you can’t help but be reminded of the studios of the great artists, such as Picasso and Cézanne. With large stretchers and canvases piled up against every wall, drawers overflowing with sketches and scribbled ideas, paintings on the back of envelopes and small sculptures dotted around, Catherine’s studio is indicative of her relentless energy and desire to explore the human body and spirit through making.
Catherine identifies two distinct phases in her working process. The first phase is spontaneous, a frenzy of activity, of sweeping, gestural marks and a few broad strokes of colour to take command of the paper or canvas. Often working from memory or from life models either in movement or holding very short poses, Catherine works quickly and instinctively to capture these fleeting moments. Working across several pieces at once allows Catherine the freedom to experiment and prevents her from becoming too precious over any single piece.
Figure Turned | 45x53cm | Mixed Media
Leaning Torso | 86x72cm | Mixed Media
The second phase is slower, a period of refinement to provide balance and substance to the work, without taking away from the energy of the first phase. The curve of a back or the tilt of a head is defined by just a couple of lines of ink or paint. The traces of previous marks are visible underneath, adding to the sense of movement and conveying a feeling of time passing, or perhaps of the moment slipping away.
Figure with Grey Cloak | 37x44cm | Mixed Media
Creation with Red | 55x55cm | Mixed Media
There is something very tactile, physical and intimate about Catherine’s work; whether it’s the little models moulded and painted completely in her hands, or her larger scale works where her entire body would have been active in their making, the touch of the artist is completely present in the end result. With brush marks and the smears and scrapes of a palette knife being dragged across the surface still evident, collaged elements and areas where wet paint has been scratched into, your eye is drawn into the variety of marks and textures. It is the materiality of the work that is so inviting.
Small Sculptures | Mixed Media
Throughout her studio practice Catherine is trying to capture the spirit or essence of the figure as well as their physical presence. The work demonstrates a sensitivity towards figurative painting that continues to inspire and intrigue.
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Golden Shadows | 45x55cm | Mixed Media