Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Carol Marine: Pitcher & Apple #2

During my writing in this blog, I have learned that there are three main groups of still life painters: those who prefer minimal compositions, of one or two items, those who aim for complexity, including as much as ten various objects, and those who are comfortable with any arrangement, a trait that makes them universal and all-round artists. Carol Marine clearly belongs to the third category. Moreover, she is similarly at ease with various known painting styles: her exotic and intense palette echoes expressionism, her loose brushwork pays tribute to impressionism, and the final results often carry a suggestion of fauvism. And yet, what fascinates me the most in her work, is the overwhelming sense of personality. It saturates her paintings and inevitably affects the viewer. All of the influences do not impose themselves upon the artist's expression; Marine absorbed techniques and peculiarities from various traditions and schools, and gives them her own individual interpretation, filtering them through the prism of her own vision. Eventually, her style is very definitive and focused, revealing that the artist knows where she is headed -- even when she tries something new. This may sound strange, but I find something masculine in her work. Again, a universal artist, who can transcend femininity and enrich her paintings with the air of the opposite sex.
Marine often experiments, creating a series of works on a single theme, reminiscent of Monet, albeit on a smaller scale. Objects are frequently depicted directly from above, or from another unusual angle. Another characteristic that distinguishes her style, is the creative approach to backgrounds. These are often painted with an unexpected color, or decorated by a piece of cloth. She is similarly inventive when it comes to ornamental finish, covering entire canvases with polka-dots or other unusual patterns. Additionally, it often seems that a filter covers her pieces: it produces a certain fuzziness, as if the paintings suffer from megascopic pixelization. All of these features add a dimension of surprise to her artwork. It may be an acquired taste, but I find it certainly worth acquiring. In spite of so many subjective qualities, or maybe because of them, the final result turns out to be most objective: fresh and enticing paintings.
Carol Marine lives in Austin, Texas, USA. Besides painting, she also teaches in various workshops. She publishes her work on this website and this blog.

This is a luscious piece, with generously distributed paint. It is not realistic, and it was not intended as such. Looking at these colors, vast oriental palaces, tended by innumerable servants and slaves, come to mind -- the behind the scenes of a tale from One Thousand and One Nights. I have recently read a few tales from the collection, and was surprised about the unruly debauchery described in this medieval Islamic book. The apple can certainly represent the temptation and imply on what is happening onstage.

It is interesting to see how the drapery (or the curtain) starts at the background and gradually flows out to the foreground, capturing a considerable part of it. It becomes both a secondary and a primary actor, providing contrast for the pitcher and the apple -- supporting them, both physically and visually -- and simultaneously exposing wide areas in a somewhat flaunting, playful manner. Initially a device, it has earned the right to be an active member of this still life: "Pitcher & Apple on Cloth." It occupies the whole center of the painting, and its azure tint indeed lets the composition breathe, just as the color implies.

In tune with my previous remarks, I would say that the brushwork here is no less than bohemian. As a result, objects appear to be growing, or expanding. The sense of movement is not compositional, but more particular: the pitch and the apple appear to strive for independence, trying to push each other away. Again, the drapery plays a conciliating role, but I can still tell that the other two don't like each other. Ironically, they generate magnetic tension, which in turn adds a comic element to the painting. The apple indeed replicates the lower part of the pitcher, but in such minute proportions as to further elaborate the comic theme. However, all of these separate meanings do not undermine the general impression; eventually, this canvas is more than the sum of its parts.

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