Art & Photography / Who, What, Why

Marie Jacotey on the Female Experience

In light of her upcoming exhibition, we speak to French artist Marie Jacotey about her tender depictions of heartbreak and seduction

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My Soul is Dark© Marie Jacotey

Who? Since moving to London from Paris four years ago to study printmaking at the Royal College of Arts, French artist Marie Jacotey has become an enduring and charming presence on the contemporary British art scene. She’s based out of the Studio Assemble-built Sugarhouse Studios in London, a pastel tile-clad warehouse space where she creates honest and intuitive works about human relationships and the female experience.

“I’m inspired a lot by comics and cinema,” she says, though her work is influenced by fashion, architecture painting and literature, too. “Basically, I’m curious about any way of creating some sense of a narrative.” Her medium of choice is the coloured pencil, whether on paper or plaster. “They’re just very accessible and direct tools to be working with.  The immediacy seduces me.”

What? Jacotey’s rapid rise to success is due at least in part to her unique and yet utterly recognisable depiction of the female experience; somehow her subjects, whether heartbroken and vulnerable or temptress-like in their seduction of a love interest, feel distinctly realistic. “Women do play an important role in my drawings,” she says. “I am not sure who the protagonist is, though; I guess she’s some sort of polymorphous woman, one moment a femme fatale and an innocent young girl the next. Or maybe both simultaneously. This dichotomy seems consistent with a 21st century attitude. “Generally, I guess there’s a balance to be observed in everyone, men included, and that interests me. It’s somewhere in between seductive confidence and depreciative self-doubt.”

Her principle concern, though, is with relationships. Friendships, family issues, love affairs; I am intrigued by the unexpected ways things tend to unfold between people.” This influence reaches beyond her subjects and into the deepest corners of her images, from the repetitive print of a rug to the pictures decorating the rooms she draws. “Visually, I’m obsessed with patterns and with images within images, so this often leads me to draw intimate interior sequences. I like the claustrophobic atmosphere this creates – the only ways to escape the scene are through the images hung on the walls.”

Why? This has been Jacotey's year. Aside from being selected as one of Bloomberg’s New Contemporaries, and collaborating with Hannah Barry Gallery, with which she has completed a string of exhibitions, Jacotey has also undertaken a book project this year. Sweetly entitled Dear Love Who Should Have Been Forever Mine, it launches on September 9, and promises to be a poignant and recognisable collection of musings on love and human interaction.

“The book was born from a desire to collaborate,” Jacotey says. “Graphic design studio Stinsensqueeze approached me as they were keen to work on an artist's book, and I’ve always been really interested in producing books myself. Stina and Louise from the studio proposed making an object with no binding at all – a collection of loose pages that I could use however I wanted to. From there, I imagined a loose correspondence between two former lovers discussing, or even ‘monologuing’, on their lost past love.”

The book will be accompanied by an exhibition entitled Everything I Used to Love About Us is Dead, which runs from September 9 until October 18 at Hannah Barry, London. 

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