Marco Villard creates a display of bold, unrestrained and intense compositions through a defying approach to his technique and palette that execute strong, expressionistic and colorful visualizations. Ηouse-like and everyday objects, human figures as well as domesticated animals populate his canvases with figurative arrangements inspired by contemporary fables or more personal allegories of the artist. In Villard’s recent body of work, imagination leads his artistic developments with emphasis in his fantastical visions and stories. Using a variety of materials, the artist incites naïf elements rejecting a clear representation of figures or objects. On the contrary, emphasizing on the more vague depictions, the paintings provide another sense of perspective challenging the viewer’s perception in terms of the artworks’ depth and space. This controlled vagueness also renders a sort of floating sense augmenting the naïve art attributes on the canvases. For instance, Villard neither reveals further facial details nor completely portrays other figurative elements from the back or the front side.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
Villard seems to put a major priority in colour combination and forms expressing his intensity and enthusiasm. Obscure or indiscernible depictions are missing from the artist’s painterly results, regardless the more abstracted concepts or motifs. Spontaneity consists an influential drive in his visual language providing an aesthetic as well as sentimental freedom that is deprived from conventions in forms and shapes. Villard creative vocabulary stems from a domestic iconography managing to even construct simultaneously multiple pictorial worlds within the same canvas, such as in the ‘Stories of a whispering prince III’ (2022) or ‘Stories of a whispering prince II’ (2022), where the artist is dividing the artworks in different painterly thematic images. Many times one depiction’s arrangements interfere with the borders of another, creating an illusion of a whole entity based on fragmented details. Ordinary characters unapologetically coexist in his painting stories that can turn equally simple and aesthetically complex at the same time. Visually there is an elegant interplay between tension and relaxation; intense and vivid tones smoothly interact with undisturbed and relaxed figures in Villard’s narrations. Reality is not an objective purpose in these imageries, but rather subjective responses that challenge each eye. Villard’s imagery brings up various identical depictions within the same painting succeeding to establish a well-shaped continuity and aesthetical fluidity in each painting.
*From March 16 until Apr 20, Th-Fr-Sat 5-8pm at Alkinois Project Space, Athens
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
My practice is multidimensional as it also incorporates filmmaking, writing and performance. I somehow don’t really divide them as if they were different processes, everything kind of cohabitates together and I often work on several things hands in hands. I carry a notebook on me in which I write , draw or paint every time I have the chance to. I like working on it while being out in the open, in the city. Because I know I’ll have to go back to the painting and isolate. The impulse could come out of a conversation or just a thought, a dream, an image, a memory, and I then try to explore that feeling as it progressively transforms into something tangent. Some things stay trough time, evolve, and eventually lead themselves into the paintings. I don’t think I have a set way to paint, I just need windows, windows that are on the street. I need to hear something. Sometimes, not always , but sometimes, the loneliness that comes with painting is hard for me, and I realized lately that I really enjoy the presence of my dog in New York. She just seats there with me, I drink my coffee and I keep working. I try to be consistent in my work without falling into a routine, I stay away from the thinking as much as I can, and try to keep exploring the emotions that sparked the idea in the first place. If the painting doesn’t work I destroy it, and I start all over again. Additionally I think the scales of my paintings have grown bigger overt time, I really like working on big scales because of how much space they take in the world, they have some kind of magical presence for me. They give me strength and hope.
You are currently presenting your new solo exhibition, ‘stories about a whispering prince‘, what sort of artworks do you showcase at this exhibition? Is there any particular stories about the title ?
Last year I found a notebook which contained a text I wrote as a child. It tales the story of a lonely prince , isolated on a mountain. Having nobody to talk to, he whispers his thoughts into a dent inside a rock. But somehow because of how the mountain is constructed, the whispers are echoed into the valley and the whole village can hear the little prince. All the villagers listen to the prince thinking it is the voices of the Gods, yet it is only the little prince alone on his mountain, unaware that he can be heard. This prince I imagined as a child somehow merged with the series of works I was working on for the past two years and led to the creation of the ongoing whispering Prince series. The strangeness and hardship of grief was in the center of my work for the past two years, and I have been experimenting with the idea of « angels » though different forms: in the series « angels « but also in the following « Apollo’s Birds » in which angels transformed into Birds of good omen. Inspired by the myth of Apollo’s Ravens, I was already leaning into mythology when I found this tale in my childhood notebook. The prince then naturally came into the paintings and gave a whole new dimension to the angels, somehow creating works that are direct invitations into a tale, putting angels into display into a world « whispered » by the Prince. The show Incorporates 5 large paintings from New York and 18 works (including 4 large scales) I created during my residency in Alkinois. In this works I am looking for a strong sense of storytelling, painting on long framed rectangular works , passing as windows or doors into a world depicted by the imaginary prince. The painted frames are a direct testimonial to the idea that each frame is chapter of the story, like a viewfinder to a world, frame per frame.
What would be the best ways to exhibit your work?
I don’t have a particular fixed idea on how my paintings should be exhibited as it changes according to the works but I really appreciated the way Romain Bitton and Alix Janta curated the show at Alkinois. Inspired by the way my paintings were hanging from metal beams in my studio in France, they had the idea to plant the paintings Into the floor of the gallery, and it created some sort of interactive walk In which you could physically interact and discover the paintings as if you were walking trough a maze. I thought it really help the spirit of the tale and led the viewers to really immerse themself playfully in between the paintings.
Which are your plans for the near future?
I am going back home to New York City and I am planning to continue working on this series with the goal of eventually exhibit in New York later this year. I am also in the middle of production of my first feature film, which has been in the work for almost two years and that I am planning to wrap by the summer.
All images courtesy of the artist