March Mostra 2018/Meet the artists… Marie-Claire Blais

As we approach the March Mostra, our second exhibition of this academic year, we will be publishing a series of blogs taking a closer look at the individual practices of our seven resident artists and resident architecture fellow. Today’s interview is with Marie-Claire Blais, our Québec Resident.

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Photo: Antonio Palmieri

You set out as an architect and made the choice to become an artist. How has that informed the way you develop your ideas?

For me it is impossible to separate art and architecture. It is only in our sectorial vision of differentiating practices that they take two separate roles.

We can see here in Rome many examples of the strong relationship between art and architecture. For example if we think about Bernini’s project for the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria, the pictorial and the spatial world are tightly connected and interact in an expressive way with each other.

Studying architecture has informed my understanding of space and the way it affects human perception and culture. It has changed the way I look at my surroundings, integrating notions related to space such as movement, time and materiality. This idea was very important in my decision to move to art to get closer to the creative process of materialization, making sense of this being part of my work.


At the moment you are researching various pigments which reflect many of the colours we find within this city. Could you tell us about this ongoing research?

My passion for the pink and orange palette is well known to my colleagues in Montréal. To be surrounded by these colours every day has made them even more attractive and encouraged me to explore them. This has coincided with my growing interest in fresco. Which has been a major discovery for me. I don’t remember having seen such beautiful and impressive frescos before coming to Rome.



I understand fresco as a way of interpreting the interior space in relation to the exterior world. The necessity to stretch it into the imaginary field of mythology and further.



Multiple layers of meaning between image and space and the ubiquitous use of the same colour palette to paint buildings has deeply interested me while here in Rome.


Patterns seem to have had a central role in your practice over the years. You also mentioned in previous conversations your interest in many of the mosaics you have seen around Rome. Is there a relationship between the two?

It is strange, I never thought about them as being patterns, but rather geometries. Mosaics by the process of repetition become patterns, but initially they are much more related to a certain mastery of geometry. Patterns are for me rigid constructions, that tend to format one way of living and thinking, this is perhaps why I wish to transform them. I have never liked the idea of control being behind the concept of formatting.

But perhaps that isn’t the real question here. When I first arrived I went to see the Baths of Caracalla. It was the first ancient monument I wanted to visit because of its close relationship to water. There I discovered magnificent mosaic floors, incomplete but what I could see challenged me a lot. From there I followed the path of water, the idea of dissolution of shape and memories, the transformation over time, the birth of a city and it brought me here, where I stand right now in my own work.


Marie-Claire’s work will be exhibited alongside the seven other resident artists in the March Mostra. The opening will take place on Friday 16 March 18.30-21.00. Opening hours 16.30-19.00 until Saturday 24 March 2018, closed Sundays.

Interview by Alice Marsh (Communications & Events). Photos by Pascal Grandmaison.