MAEV: An Artist’s Reaffirmation of the Visionary Impulse
Allegra, Paintings, 38 x 45
Rarely are subject and medium so seamlessly merged as in the paintings on copper of the doubly-gifted Quebec-based visual artist and musician MAEV (Maev Marchini) whose compositions are infused with a singularly ethereal sense of light.
A visionary in the tradition of William Blake, MAEV abandoned oil painting for her unusual medium in the wake of a trying family crisis in the late 1980s. Unlike that British master, however, she does not employ the copper plate for printing multiple editions; rather, each plate serves as the surface for a single original painting, etched with tactile lines and brushed with colored varnishes in her own inimitable manner.
The resulting works have a transcendent quality, at once mythic and romantic, with human and fantastic peacock-like avian figures afloat in glowing cosmic spaces. Most of the human figures in MAEV’s paintings are exquisitely formed female nudes of a beauty approaching those of Botticelli. Invariably, they are enveloped in richly burnished hues, as seen in “Envoi Sensuel,” where a slender Venus etched in a supple line is combined with a fiery globe in an especially radiant configuration.
MAEV’s colors are as variegated as those in Redon’s pastels, albeit more fluid and filled with light. Further enhanced by a mottled effect in which several colors flow together in almost “marbleized” configurations that bring the entire surface alive with a vibrant chromatic “pulse,” they create the sense of a rarefied realm of fantasy and heavenly harmony.
Sinuously delineated floral forms also appear in compositions such as “Allegra” and “Paradisia.” In the latter work they evoke the cosmic terrain upon which one of MAEV’s characteristically comely female nudes strolls gracefully among exotic crane-like birds. In another piece called “Terre-Ciel,” two nudes crouch on a massive green vegetal mass with a curvaceousness that rhymes visually with those of the figures, floating over a shimmering body of water. Between them a large water bird preens against a glowing solar orb emitting blinding golden rays.
In yet another stunning scene entitled “Soleil Bleu,” a bather with a flowing mane is seen partially submerged in a body of water and encircled by delicate flowers which curve upward to vanish into an orange stratosphere where planets are suspended like bright balloons.
In other works, such as “Embrasement,” beautiful faces surrounded by crowns of flowing tresses float disembodied in fiery, almost equally luminous areas of sky and water. Elements of the Rococo and the Baroque also come into play in MAEV’s compositions to enhance their sense of fantasy, as seen in a venture into Orientalia entitled “New Japan,” where the bare breasts and torso of a beautiful woman appear delineated in a phantom-like manner against an ostensibly abstract cosmic background, the contours of the figure’s hair flowing upward like huge flower.
The word “visionary” has been bantered about so freely as to have almost lost its meaning in recent years. But an artist such as MAEV makes clear that the spirit of William Blake, Samuel Parker, and others among the group that embraced the name “The Ancients” for their love of myth and magic is still alive in the postmodern era. For MAEV’s work is possessed of a visionary intensity and a conviction that provides visual evidence of her statement, “I love to create for the pleasure of others, whether it be with original music, floating to transmit my impressions, my interior realizations or to compose a parallel universe with my paintings on copper where the unreal transcends the day to day in a flight of colors, where the heat of well-being mixes with Love and Hope.”
–– Maureen Flynn
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