Roadtrip: Marie Harnett and Kristian Evju at the Albers Foundation
Contributed by Sharon Butler and Stephanie Theodore / This spring, we visited Marie Harnett, a London artist who was in residence at the Josef + Anni Albers Foundation in Bethany, Connecticut, and her visiting guest, Kristian Evju. During a two-month residency, Marie worked steadily on a series of highly detailed graphite drawings based on altered images from films. Unlike other programs, the Albers residency is all about work, which suited Marie (and Kristian while he was there), whose drawing practice is extremely labor-intensive and requires extraordinary focus. The Albers didn’t envision group meals, camaraderie, or cocktail parties, but rather time, space, and solitude. The residents also have access to the Albers’ archives and library, which are located in a bunker-like building down the winding dirt driveway.
Marie graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2006, and had her first solo in London at Alan Cristea Gallery in 2009. Stephanie saw the show and, impressed with Marie’s detailed photorealist drawings, eventually invited her to show at Theodore:Art. The 2013 group exhibition, “Notorious,” was followed in 2017 by the first solo exhibition Marie had in the US. Sharon had met both Kristian and Marie several years earlier when Sharon was a visiting artist at the Vytlacil Residency Program, so it was a good opportunity for us all to catch up.
Marie watches movie trailers frame-by-frame to find her images. She doesn’t pay attention to the plot, but only to the images, which she says are full of ambiguous narrative potential. She never watches the films. Ever.
During the residency, Marie was exploring the notion of a faceless figure, different painting approaches, and experimental sewing projects. A table in a corner served as a worksite for a series of small paintings on paper, and Marie told us that she found working with paint, color, and brushes infinitely more complex (and more nerve-wracking) than the relatively simple process of drawing. At night she worked on sewing, both with machine and hand stitching.
The Albers property covers several quiet acres with wooded walks and a lovely pond. In 2016, we drove out there to select art work from then-resident Pierre Mabille for “Deux Côtés,” a group show at Theodore:Art that later traveled to Galerie Jean Fournier in Paris. But this time our visit coincided with such a lovely spring day that after lunch we took a walk, beyond the archive building, past soon-to-be-planted garden, and down to the pond.
Stay tuned for our next Roadtrip feature–somewhere in or near the Catskills.
About the Authors:
In 2010 Stephanie Theodore founded Theodore:Art, a contemporary art gallery and consultancy, presenting exhibitions of works by emerging and established artists from the UK, EU and the US. The gallery is located at 56 Bogart Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Sharon Butler is the publisher of Two Coats of Paint and is affiliated with Theodore:Art, where she had a solo show in 2018.
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