1992-today – Painting

Lauréat Marois is a man of moods and contrasts. Like Life itself, a process of transformation that is both exhilarating and challenging. Tuned in to his paradoxical essence, the artist practices asceticism, abandoning himself to intuition and relentlessly pursuing an aesthetic quest rooted in the fusion of materiality and spirituality. An unsettling contemporary alchemist, he invites us to contemplate with respect and compassion a zone often scorned, if not neglected: the human soul.

For Marois, this existential achievement would be impossible without Nature, the primordial spring, the ultimate model for his creative work. If at first glance he appears to be a landscape artist with a penchant for geometric abstraction, his geomorphological and botanical explorations are actually based on metaphor. Formally related despite their differences of scale, his schematized motifs of trees and especially flowers (used in particular between 1992 and 1995) acquire a whole new density in his hands.

Eluding the apparent thematic simplicity of elements isolated from the conventional landscape, Continuum (1992), a series of seven acrylics on panel, celebrates the cyclical nature of cosmic evolution and its perpetual regeneration. Bear in mind that the number seven, recurring in Marois’s paintings over the last few years, is no accident. Symbolizing the whole universe in motion, like the passage from a familiar cycle to another yet unknown, this number is in perfect harmony with the plastic and philosophical ambitions of the painter.

Continuum reminds us that the tree loses its leaves only to come to life again,. Like the parable of the seed that must die in the ground before giving birth to new life full of vigor, this “decline,” far from being irreversible, is transitory, a passage to a newfound magnificence. Flowering is a similar, albeit more intimate ,process . It fans the flame associated with inner life and which , too often short-lived, seeks only to blossom in an environment tolerant of its light. When linked to the figure (face) of the sun in the polyptych Les porte-bonheur (drawing, 1992), the flower provides us with a happy coexistence of opposites, one of the fundamental principles of cosmobiology, a great source of inspiration to the artist.

The series of gouaches on cardboard entitled Joie (1993) pursues this particular reflection. Marois reintroduces the third component of his serigraphy Triangles (1993), consisting of two stylized figures: a flower (which could be a lotus ) topped with a two-lobed leaf (like the heart depicted in popular imagery). The series consists of seven variations by color, the ambiguous title—Joie (Joy)—referring more to the painter’s jubilation in exploring chromatic effects than to the actual content of the image, which is as much about death as about resurrection, about burial as about elevation.

Even more equivocal is the Iris series (mixed techniques, 1993). This “winged flower” (which gave rise to a lithography under the same name) is considered in Greek mythology to be the messenger of the gods. Marois, whose work constantly alludes to the earthly and celestial realms, does not deny that he finds this allegory appealing, However, marked by the dual nature of the artist, Iris wavers between sensuality and cruelty, the mannered dissection of the motif being pushed to the limit of scraping (the substrate itself is distorted and notched). In contemplating the work, we cannot help but feel an uneasy fascination.

More restrained chromatically, the series Les clairs-obscurs (1994) is nonetheless the most accomplished. With an economy of means—graphite drawing, as well as forays into collage—Marois introduces seven variations from a very dark photograph taken in 1972 of a bouquet of flowers in a vase. What refinement in approach and nuance for a subject considered to be so hackneyed! Mystery and beauty are united in a thrilling embrace, seven times renewed.

Spontaneous yet highly structured, introspective yet lyrical, Marois’s work is like a balm to the tortured soul. Its incompleteness leaves us with the impression that other, equally moving moments will follow, inspired this time by communion and renunciation.

Marie Delagrave