A Review of Morning Defeats at Hannah Barry Gallery, London
Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2013 with an MA in Printmaking, the Parisian artist Marie Jacotey has exhibited internationally. Jacotey is known for her crayon ‘comic book-esque’ illustrations that engage with the viewer through their rather sinister, dramatic and filmic themes of lust, hurt and ambiguity. Jacotey’s practice focuses strongly on human relationships, our social interactions and how we deal with important subjects, including love and death in our daily lives. Although Jacotey often depicts women in her work she is adamant that her trajectory is non-gender specific.
Marie’s most recent exhibition Morning Defeats is currently on show at Hannah Barry Gallery, which has represented her since her first solo show back in November 2014. Since her residency in traditional woodblock printing in 2009 at the Fine Arts Academy, Hangzhou, China, Jacotey has regularly worked with Japanese paper. The exhibition presents thirty drawings in pastel on Japanese paper and also a large scale work on fabric, which includes drawings that have been applied onto the fabric with textile pens, crayons and dyes. Jacotey explains to me that her choice of medium is important as it reflects her creative process, which is intuitive and spontaneous, whilst also symbolising the vulnerable and fragile states we often find ourselves in when dealing with emotional relationships.
In her drawings we are presented with a female protagonist who leads us through her stories of sex and boredom, allowing us into her personal scenes of intimacy and solitude. Take for instance Yea (2016 - 2017) - a snapshot moment that is suggestive of either the time before or after sex, where the canvas is filled with tenderness and sexual tension. Or alternatively, When dawn comes loaded with fear (2016 - 2017) - a painfully expressive work that reflects the desperation and torment similar to that conveyed in Edvard Munch's The Scream (1893).
In Jacotey’s drawings the viewer observes both interior and exterior landscapes, which range from Normandy to Alcatraz respectively. The artist draws her influences from a diverse range of creative fields, including painters such as Tal R and David Hockney, comic book illustrators Glenn Baxter and Chass Addams, as well as the writer Marguerite Duras and fashion designers Dolce & Gabbana. Indeed we see Jacotey forming a collage of influences in this show. Vases similar to those by Ken Price are located in a selection of the works, whilst her solemn architecture appears to fuse a style similar to Mies Van De Rohe and standard American Motels.
Marie explains how this association with various sources is integral to her creative process, as she often finds herself obsessing over a particular sentence, image or text which forms the basis for a collage that allows her narratives to flow between each work. These nihilistic and sensual drawings capture a perspective we recognise in the all-pervasive photography of the 21st century, where the smartphone allows us to manually point and shoot, swipe, crop and edit. This is evident in images such as Hands up who cries themselves to sleep here (2016-2017), where the body of the female protagonist has been violently cut and cropped. All that is left is her instagram-worthy, toned torso. We can also observe Marie’s use of the recurring motif in the painting : the artist herself points out the pattern featured in the background is similar to the vase that dominates the work Played at happiness in a night full of unimaginable grief (2016 - 2017) - both influences of Ken Prices’ vases that were exhibited earlier this year at Hauser & Wirth.
The large installation piece takes up the centre of the lower ground floor gallery, suggesting a centrepiece, yet without detracting from the series of drawings. Like the Japanese paper works, the installation can be read as a series of different stories, independent entities, whilst simultaneously forming a collective; one that expresses and battles with the torment, isolation, frustration yet also compassion and safety often experienced within a relationship. Marie explains how she was fortunate to be able to work on this larger project at her studio space in Bermondsey, run by Assemble, where she draped the long material from the maisonette and worked selectively on each piece of fabric.
Although this is a solo show, Marie has still managed to collaborate and support other creative talent within the exhibition. Each drawing has been hung in a distinctive frame created by the designers Soft Baroque. The duo Saša Štucin and Nicholas Gardner are both Royal College of Art Graduates whose practice ‘focuses on creating work with conflicting functions and imagery, without abandoning beauty or consumer logic.’ Marie has also sought out an alliance with the poet Rachel Allen, to whom she was introduced by gallerist Hannah Barry. They have drawn from one another's creative practice to formulate a conversational piece. From this, the publication Nights of Poor Sleep has been produced by Test Centre and designed by Travern T. Croves. This interdisciplinary work reflects the critical and creative response between each woman and their ‘interconnected forms and processes of drawing and writing poetry’. To celebrate the publication the gallery will host the launch of the work on Thursday 12th October from 6-8pm - a perfect opportunity to visit this insightful, powerful, illuminating and at times visually overwhelming work of art.
Written by Lara Monro, a Contributor to Arteviste.