Works on Paper

 

Drawing and collage are an important part of Marie-Therese's practice, working on paper allows her to explore and experiment with ideas and narratives. Her exploration of narratives, taken from a variety of sources including literature, mythology and biographical stories, have led to a lexicon of symbols of flowers, animals and shapes. Her collages combine careful draftsmanship with whimsical and flowing shapes cut out of Japanese paper. Her self-portraits are not simply a way of re-examining her face but rather aim to explore her background and attempt to capture an aspect of her identity, she recreates old master paintings with collage and inserts her face into them. Taking possession of the picture and reacquiring it, she references artists such as Claude Cahun and Cindy Sherman. However as these aren’t photography the costumes and head dresses never become a reality, the original painting is transformed into a flat collage, and the face is drawn with pen and ink, not painted.

A recurring motif of a wolf occupies a series of drawings titled ‘My father, Freud and other stories’ deriving from Sigmund Freud’s famous case which he titled ‘Wolf Man’. because the patient was traumatized by a nightmare where white wolves would sit in a walnut tree, peering  into his window every night.  The works also explore the personal history of Marie-Therese's  father who met Doctor Freud as a young boy in 1930s Vienna.  The drawings feature her father meeting a half wolf Sigmund Freud, walking in an imaginary park.  Sigmund Freud is depicted as half man half wolf in reference to his famous ‘Wolf Man’ case, he is a shaman or medicine man.  According to Carl Jung in ‘Man And His Symbols’ birds and shamans can represent transcendence and a journey.

During lockdown Marie-Therese's practice moved from her studio into her home and onto her kitchen table, clearing it all away whenever the table was needed.  ‘Art In Isolation’ drawings and collages were made during this period and reflect the experience and atmosphere of isolation and confinement.  She drew inspiration from other artists using her collection of art books. Early drawings reflect her emotions at the earlier stage of the lockdown. A lone figure copied from a Michelangelo drawing set in an imaginary wood next to a winter tree.  The atmosphere is fairy tale like, the figure could be a shaman surrounded by huge and exotic birds. The dreamlike quality confronts a new reality in her later series of drawings: ‘Family Portrait’ uses the composition from Max Beckmann’s painting ‘Les Artistes With Vegetables’ (1943), with the exiled artist joined at table by 3 of his emigrant friends. The sense of unease and conspiracy is heightened with the strange symbols of the fish, the candle and the distorting mirror that Beckmann holds. Although during lockdown one of Marie-Therese's daughters was away in Paris and not with the rest of the family, she is featured.  Just like Beckmann who gathers his 3 friends who actually never met as a group, it is an imagined encounter that talks of exile, separation and loneliness and during confinement this painting seemed very apropos.  Marie-Therese's version reunites the family all wearing masks while she does not, as though she is the witness or narrator observing them going through these strange rituals. It is left to the viewer to decide whether these figures are simply wearing wolves and birds on their heads or transforming into these animals. The candle was replaced with sunflowers as they were in season and represent love and loyalty.