Marie Bernard is a collaboration between Rotterdam NL based designer Masja van Deursen and artist Serge Game that started in 2017.
Based on their separate professional experiences they investigate their shared passion for the tactile use of colour and materials. Their approach is very intuitive and allows for both abstract as well as more figurative results. Typically they will pick up a pair of scissors and start cutting up sheets of coloured paper and arranging the shapes without a predetermined plan.
Key are the imperfect overlaps - as a direct result of this modus operandi - that enhance the works’ visual tension and physical presence. These flaws - which are present throughout all subsequent pieces Marie Bernard create - bear testimony to the analogue origins of their collaboration, as well as to the firm belief that intuition and an organic approach are to be embraced in order to make the works resonate.
Each journey from paper to plywood is unique as multiple layers of paper are translated into a three dimensional image. Marie Bernard make sure to perfectly balance all colours and carefully translate the human gesture and imperfections present in the paper collages.
In order to achieve a high degree of colour saturation as well as translucency every separate piece of plywood is treated with at least 4 coats of bright white primer before finishing it with 3-5 thin layers of acrylic paint. Black is never used straight from the bottle but composed from scratch using an array of colours. The result is yet another vibrating colour which our eyes perceive as black although the consistency may vary per work.
All plywood collages are painted and assembled by hand. This means that, although they come from a Limited Edition of 8, really each and every work is unique.
IN CONVERSATION WITH Marie bernard
Otomys: How have your creative backgrounds contributed to the Marie Bernard Collection of works?
Marie Bernard: When we first started making work together, we knew we had to find a common ground. By then we had already been a couple for quite some time and had visited many cities, museums, exhibitions and architectural sites. We would discuss these visits at length. These shared experiences provided us with the backbone to our collaboration. The love for a tactile use of colour and materials was evident in Masja’s designs as well as in my paintings. Masja is very much at ease with gently pushing around abstract shapes and colours all day long until a composition is reached which proves satisfactory. I find myself obsessing over translating our paper collages into plywood: which shape is superimposed, which shape is placed underneath, how do we make it interesting enough without becoming too technical. Not to mention the meticulous balancing of all the different colours that we mix and apply by hand.
Otomys: Which artists and designers have influenced you throughout your career?
Marie Bernard: We are both very interested in architecture and sculpture. Masja is also drawn to different styles of music. She is currently studying the work of Contantino Nivola, a Sardinian sculptor, muralist and designer. Philip Guston, the American-Canadian painter is a huge inspiration. We are both moved by different kinds of art and one could say that we are omnivores when it comes to digesting the visual world.
Otomys: We know that colour is so important to your work; how do you select the colour recipes for your pieces and do you consider seasonal trends?
Marie Bernard: Intuition is key to selecting the colours we use in our work. Having said that: intuition usually works better with a certain degree of experience. We have both been intrigued by colour since starting our art education. I could contemplate the balance of colour for hours on end. Masja also spends hours choosing the right colour constellations. Seasonal trends is not something we tend to consider. We like our works to be timeless and relevant at the same time.
Otomys: What do you love about living in Rotterdam?
Marie Bernard: The city has become busier and busier and more cosmopolitan over the past few years. Rotterdam has always been an acquired taste with its modern city center, wide roads and its lack of ‘gezelligheid’, the typical Dutch coziness. It has also provided us access to really great spaces to live and work, and with less distraction of the other larger cities.
Otomys: Where can we find you when not in the studio?
Marie Bernard: Probably in one of our favourite wine bars tasting new arrivals of natural wine or enjoying a meal with friends. If you can’t find us there, we’re probably hiking in the Belgian Ardennes, a favourite destination for us whenever we want to escape the city.
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Marie Bernard: Hemisphere