Arts Muse

In Conversation with Artist Coline Marotta

Matilda Seddon speaks to Coline Marotta about her most recent works and the different sources of inspiration behind them.

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Image Credit: Old Stones and Old Love Always, Coline Marotta, 2020

Do you ever dream of a sweeter, cosier existence? French artist Coline Marotta speaks about painting characters yearning for such softness and comfort, and executes this unique vision through an exciting use of colour and composition. She has worked with the Public Gallery in London on solo and group exhibitions following the completion of her degree in Marseilles. I recently had the privilege of speaking with Marotta about the work she creates from her art studio in Copenhagen.

How was your experience working with the Public Gallery?

It was great. I completed the works in London and realised that my works really change depending on where I’m doing them. It really made me think about the impact of the environment on my paintings.

It’s interesting that you say your work changes based on the environment. Do you find that your work has changed since moving to Copenhagen?

Yeah, in a way. It’s interesting because I make work about relationships and the way we act towards one another. In Marseilles people are always talking to each other. You go to the grocery shop and have a little chat with the cashier and it’s a part of life. There’s a lot of room for spontaneous interaction and accidents.

Here in Copenhagen, these small social meetings are a bit more impersonal. It’s not that we’re communicating less, but differently. Recently I’ve been thinking about the concept of home and about how we define ourselves, culturally, when we’re not really from where we’re from anymore, but also we’re not really from where we live now. So, in a way, these personal things have an impact on the works. A lot of my work is about this feeling of wanting to be close to an object or wanting to be close to another body, and there’s this sense of harmony.

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Have there been any objects you’ve been particularly interested in recently?

When I was living in Marseilles I used to collect a lot of objects. There was always a lot of stuff outside and you could almost get all of your furniture just with what was out in the streets. I had stopped doing it here [in Copenhagen] – I don't know why, but recently I’ve started to notice things a bit more again. Next to my studio there’s this house where there’s always a table outside and it’s just written ‘Everything costs 5 kroner’, so I’ve picked up some objects like that. Like a shiny ceramic dolphin – all kinds of little things. I went on a residency in Portugal in August and I picked up a lot of things on the beach. I’ve also started to paint these objects, which I would never do before.

It sounds like you like the seaside.

Yeah. I was thinking about how we go to the beach and we pick up shells and we look for the shiniest, most beautiful and most polished ones. There’s this feeling that it’s so special but actually, everybody’s doing it. And these shells – there are millions of them. And then once you bring them home, they’re not as interesting anymore. So after my trip to Portugal I brought all of my shells back to the sea. I was scared that they would become trash at home, in a way.

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In 2020 you said  you were going to do fewer projects. Given that the concept of slowness is so important in the way you work, what has been the effect of slowing down for you?

It was good – well, not exactly good. But we did have to slow down, everybody. I feel like I really need to be with the works for a long time before I put them out. I want to have thought a lot about each work and given a lot of attention to the details. Also, when I paint in the studio I like to take time to listen to podcasts or read. I like having the space as a place where I go to nourish myself and nourish the practice.So it’s a bit dreamy. I pick up things from the floor and try to be attentive to what’s going on around me.

How would you describe your work at the moment?

I’m interested in painting characters that are hoping or wishing for a slower form of life, or to be a bit softer than life. I’m often asked about the gender of the figures but I feel like they’re just characters. They just need a pair of eyes, a nose, and a mouth. I’m more focused on the dynamic between a body and the environment or between two bodies. But I think there’s always this softness and quietness. They’re trying to be comfortable, as much as they can be.

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You’ve talked about listening to your friends’ funeral playlists before. It’s interesting to think about because we all have such a unique relationship with music. What would you say your relationship with music is?

I played the piano from very young, and there was always music in my home growing up. When I paint I feel that it’s really important and it’s almost like I can’t paint without it. I find it intimidating to paint in silence.
What kinds of music have you been listening to recently, as you work?

A lot of soul and jazz. Not overly angry music, these days. It’s all pretty soft. In Copenhagen I like to go to Jazz clubs and Jazz bars. There are so many of them – Denmark is quite big in the Jazz scene.

Finally, are you working on anything at the moment?

I have plans but everything feels quite postponed. I’ve really enjoyed not having any deadlines and just being able to paint in the studio. It’s a bit of a bubble right now and I’m happy about it.

Image Credits: Emotionally Late [Repainting Paintings] ,Coline Marotta, 2019. To Love Somebody, Coline Marotta,2020. It Was Written Somewhere That Humankind Came From Tears, Coline Marotta,2020.

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