Melancholia: Marion Colomer’s Lost Paradise

written by AAC Marketing and Development Intern Erica Sobers

Marion ColomerMarion Colomer is a French painter currently based in Washington, D.C.

She enjoys incorporating the human figure and emotions into her work to create a still life, saying this method represents both how time passes and how it stands still.

She uses figurative drawing to bring her vision to life. Her latest work, Melancholia, incorporates the human figure and is sure to give viewers something to talk about.


melancholia: noun (mel·an·cho·lia \ˌme-lən-ˈkō-lē-ə\)
a feeling of sadness and depression


Upon entering the all-black Truland Gallery, viewers are immediately enveloped by the scent of green leaves and rainforest. Fall SOLOS 2016 artist Marion Colomer collaborated with Dana El Masri, NYC-based perfumer, to create the signature scent for her aptly titled, Melancholia, saying she wanted it to evoke a feeling of being lost in paradise.

“I wish to present a selection of these paintings in an installation with a scent that would recreate this emotion of smelling something beautiful, yet with a morbid aspect of putrefaction. The scent that is an illusion would engage the viewer in a multi-level emotional experience.”

Installation view of Marion Colomer's Melancholia; 2016. Photo by Dawn Whitmore

Installation view of Marion Colomer’s Melancholia.  Photo by Dawn Whitmore


Why and how did this body of work begin to form in your mind?

I felt I needed to work on making the theme reflect the idea of a conflicting point of view within a visual element. The images are inspired by pornography, but I wanted to reimagine them, with a sense of intimacy. My work is exploring beauty – I stitch embroideries on the canvas, employ colorful watercolor -, yet is acerbic.  I wanted to develop an installation that would immerse the viewer in an experience, using scent, and visual figurative drawings where the paradox of the presence of the absence is the focus point.  

I wanted to develop an installation that would immerse the viewer in an experience, using scent, and visual figurative drawings where the paradox of the presence of the absence is the focus point.

Painting the jungle was also important to me. It’s  beautiful yet dangerous, invading, where space and time seems to disappear. The people depicted stand in front of the viewer, but their figures are ghost-like and almost disappear instantly, reminiscent of a scent that is ephemeral as well, evoking the lost desire and the melancholy that arises.

What do you want the audience to take away from this work?

I hope they will experience the multi-faceted layers of the work, and feel the desire and melancholy that exist because of the absence. For Victor Hugo [a French poet], melancholy is happiness of being sad. I would like if it could create a debate, or discussion; visions of [The Garden of] Eden, and maybe for some others anxiety.

I believe that figurative painting can convey a deep message, even when exploring beauty.

I would hope that the reactions to the painting are not about sex and pornography, but rather a view on intimacy.  I also hope that figurative painting still holds an important place in today’s contemporary art scene. I believe that figurative painting can convey a deep message, even when exploring beauty.

How does your exhibition/work fit with this particular gallery?

Twine upon entering the Truland Gallery. Photo by Dawn Whitmore

Twine upon entering the Truland Gallery. Photo by Dawn Whitmore

I had a special installation arrangement for this gallery. I wanted to have a corridor to create a gradual immersion that allows the scent to become stronger as you walk through the twine into the gallery.

The space is dark and theatrical. The light shines on the sequins that are ornamenting the watercolor drawings. I intentionally covered the space like a wallpaper because I wanted a baroque installation with disjointed elements.

 What artist has influenced you the most?

I am classically trained, I do a lot of copies of still life from 17th century Dutch artists. But one artist in particular? Some people find Gauguin in my work.


Melancholia is currently open for viewing until  December 18th in the Truland Gallery located on our Lower Level. See more of Marion’s work in Ward 12, a group exhibition at the Fillmore School on view Dec 7- 21.

Join our FALL SOLOS 2016 artists along with AAC resident artist Alice Whealin for a gallery talk Saturday, December 10, 1 – 4pm.

 

*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity*

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