Edited interview conducted by Geoff Hall

Marco invited me, Geoff Hall (http://arts-mentoring-group.blogspot.com/), to a Preview of his recent paintings. I had ventured to Bath for a previous exhibition and the one thing I remembered was the colour.

I asked Marco about his use of colour, whether his locations show this kind of variation.
Yes and no. Painted in situ I find that the starting point may be referenced in what is seen but, as a painting develops, the colours begin a conversation of their own.


The blue plant on the left of the foreground. A blue plant? You mentioned that you’d changed this colour to blue and I’m just wondering about the rationale for doing that? Colouristically it seems to follow the deep purple in the tree high up on the left side of the canvas. Was it to balance the use of colour on that side?
Colours are to the painter what notes are to the composer. The best paintings exist at the edge of harmony. I sometimes throw in something ‘off key’ to exacerbate a mood or idea or to create visual tension.

In the abundance of yellow and blue tones across the canvas, in the centre there is a strongly contrasted red bush. It just sits there, a pivotal moment in the vista?
Yes. The natural composition caught my eye and through the process of painting the tree has assumed a subtle emblematic status. I would not want to labour the point (the painting is called ‘The Passion Tree’) but its colour and composition carry thoughts of Gethsemane.

Paul Gauguin is renowned for his colour inversion, flipping if you like the colour-wheel that we know so well from the Impressionist Era and their theories of colour. He records therefore his subjective response to what he sees. Has this influenced you at all in your use of colour? If not, then who?
Style and substance, intuition and intention, colour and form – These can become merely imitative when you fall in love with other artists work. Without doubt there are painters who draw out the artist in me. The late work of Braque and his ‘birds’, Bonnard, Van Gogh, a contemporary painter Mungo Powney, Milton Avery, William Crozier, Emil Nolde, Goya, Peter Kinley, The Fauves and too many more to mention!

Social history shows us that parks were created to allow city and town dwellers a space for recreation and health, giving the stale air of the urban environment a chance to breathe, to move and be cleansed. Because it speaks of well-being and welfare is this why you choose such a space?
Pragmatically speaking the botanical gardens are close to where I work. I can get there quickly and it is a beautiful, often quiet, space. Personally, thoughts of the ‘garden dramas’ that occur throughout history from Eden to The Song of Songs and onto Gethsemane lie somewhere in my consciousness.

The park of course is a controlled, manicured space far from the untamed spaces of the countryside. Is it the job of the artist to bring order to the potential chaos on the canvas or just let whatever happens, happen in the name of self-expression or chance?
I don’t think an artist has to bring order to chaos, though our actual practice often does. Rather, I hope our creative engagements, however grand or discreet, reveal life beyond death. To speak of significant things and ask meaningful questions is worthwhile. For me right now, true beauty and joy are important but they are often reflected in and by their counterpoints.

Marco wrestles with thoughts of Eden, the exotic colours and scents of paradise and of sensual pleasure and the elation of love, along with the passion of Gethsemane, of tortured spirit and the preparation of sacrifice. The counterpoint is not only found throughout creation, but in the life of the artist; a life in tension between the creative gift and the need to pay the bills! It is in this life of counterpoint that we await the ultimate resolution of life’s chromatic symphony.

Geoff Hall, writer and film-maker, Bristol, UK 2010

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