« Ras el Hanout » 150x365 cm, wool and silk hand woven in Aubusson by Manufacture Robert Four, edition of 3.
TAPESTRY «RAS EL HANOUT»
In Northern Africa, outside every grocer's shop, within reach of passersby, each shopkeeper displays his spice blend. Customers judge the quality of the store by the excellence, originality and subtlety of the blend. This spice mix is called ras el hanout, an expression which originally meant 'shop front' and, by extension, has come to signify the blend itself. 'Ras el Hanout' is also the name of the first woven artwork from Pierre Marie. This monumental tapestry (1.5m x 3.65m) is now on display in his brand-new gallery in the hills of the 9th arrondissement. As its name suggests, Ras el Hanout is a fragrant, culinary fresco whose colours and vibrancy call to mind a giant herbarium. Against a vast black background, the eye can make out pepper, clove, cumin and other savoury ingredients frequently used in the kitchen. 'I settled on the subject quickly,' notes Pierre Marie. 'The tapestry will eventually be hung in my dining room.' Produced in close collaboration with Manufacture Robert Four in Aubusson, it took two years to complete. The first year was devoted to finishing the drawing and making the cartoon. Drawing inspiration from naturalist plates, Pierre Marie first developed a quite realistic drawing. A black border hemmed in the colours. From this he created an initial sample which he analysed against the Aubusson stitch to reconcile his vision with the realities of weaving. He concluded that the drawing contained too much detail, finesse and curves and did not allow the material itself to come through. 'That's when I understood that I shouldn't hesitate to mix very raw, bright tones. Avoid excessive overlapping, exaggerate the branches. And to boldly aim for more naivete, to depict each plant as a logo, resulting in a sort of alphabet.' A few months later, a second cartoon took shape. Freed from the black outlines, he used a blue protective colour to accentuate the silhouette of each element and make the spices and the material pop. Then he returned to Aubusson to choose the colour palette and hand over the cartoon to the person who would love it and spend many long months bringing it to life. His meeting with Sylvie Chazeaux, a weaver in Aubusson, was a revelation. 'We really have the same sensibilities,' she explains. 'For a first woven piece, it is really accomplished, both in terms of the design and the colours and movement depicted. I never tired of weaving it. Each day was full of discoveries. I also reconnected with the pleasure of using weaving techniques employed in the 1930s: dots and stripes. It is truly a piece that was designed for tapestry.' Nine months later, the work was finally unveiled at the traditional tombée de métier, when the tapestry is removed from the loom. Just as with stained glass, tapestry is a natural fit with Pierre Marie's work. The artist confides that he had been attracted for some time to these art forms, which he holds to be major pieces of decorative art, between artwork and decoration. 'it is the meeting of two equally powerful skill sets: drawing and materials merge to create something magnificent. Tapestries were used for ages in churches and in châteaux to tell stories. I found it interesting to include it in my work, which has always had a narrative dimension and a penchant for monumental pieces.' His approach, which resembles that of Jean Lurçat in the 1950s, also aligns with those of a new generation of young artists determined to modernise this craft and to reintroduce it to our contemporary interiors.
How to describe Pierre Marie ? One might, of course, string together a classic series of words and figures. Age 36, born in Nogent-Sur-Marne, a passion for Disney animated films, a happy childhood, slightly hippie parents. An early enduring attraction to colour. An obvious choice : drawing.
Then one might list his collaborations with the most prestigious French brands, such as Hermes and dyptique. One might make note of the precise, yet nearly old-fashioned way he defines himself: 'Artist-ornamentalist'. But these words and figures, though accurate, would fail to convey the essentials: his subjectivity, his whimsy, his singular taste. The truest biography of Pierre Marie would be, above all else, sensitive and composed of flamboyant motifs, interlacing ribbons, colours, wilfully baroque drawings steeped in the exotic influences that adorn the various pieces in his flat in Paris's 9th arrondissement. It is a place he designed as an expression of himself: a fully realised world, a living, moving portrait. This personal, designed history begins writing a new chapter today. Indeed, Pierre Marie is exploring a new playing field: interior design, which he has chosen to tackle while remaining loyal to patterns and drawing in the spirit of an 'interior decorator-architect', similar to the approach taken to the Profession in the 19th century. In that era, the decorator took on the tasks of architect, interior decorator and industrial designer, with a comprehensive approach to interiors that went as far as designing every object and piece of furniture in the room and having them crafted by renowned artists. It is a complete, cross-cutting approach in which design comes to life, expands into space and, before our eyes, transitions from 2D to 3D. Which results in rugs, tapestries, stained glass, light fixtures and objects to discover in Pierre Marie's gallery starting from the beginning of September 2018.
PIERRE MARIE GALLERY: ARTIST STATEMENT
From the sidewalk, a lone marker: a ribbon. No numbers, no letters, no products, but a ribbon which serves as a shop sign and unfurls itself like a promise, a standard: the standard of motif as the sole signature, of drawing as the only possible way to narrate a reality and an identity which is changing, manifold and unusual. Pierre Marie chose a former antiques store surrounded by the guitar shops in the heights of the New Athens district to set up shop and open his gallery. A unique setting designed as an installation-cum-window display with a changing décor, which will gradually accommodate the artist-ornamentalist’s future creations through his collaborations with craftspeople and craft production factories: stained glass, rugs, lighting, furniture, etc. The ultimate luxury? Perhaps, but assuredly a place of beauty, which defends the notion that beauty can only bloom in the inventiveness, the creation, the singularity of a subject. A few hundred metres from his emblematic flat, which has been featured in many publications, Pierre Marie has planted his flag, his colours, his wants and his desire. It is a gesture tinged with exhibitionism, and with a fierce desire for freedom. And there is strength too: the strength of someone who is not afraid to reveal himself, to have skin in the game. 'Putting myself centre stage allows me to present a total vision, to offer an experience for both the visitor and myself,' explains Pierre Marie. 'This place also holds possibilities for stories and narratives: giving myself a setting to exhibit creates a need and forces me to produce. I like the idea of being able to show these products how I want and when I want. That total freedom is the only possible breeding ground for the craziest projects.' For his inaugural exhibition, Pierre Marie has chosen to première his first tapestry. He drew and designed it for 18 months, then had it woven at Manufacture Robert Four in Aubusson. It is a unique, surprising work, the centrepiece of an immersive installation to experience this autumn.