For French painter Marlene Mocquet, the material she uses - and how it is applied on the canvas - is as important as her fantastical images. A New York Times art reviewer in 2007 observed that the artist exploited 'paint's possibilities with flair, working thick, then thin, dripping, pouring and staining'.
'They could add squirting, swirling and throwing - among others,' says the 33-year-old who will make her Hong Kong solo debut in an eponymous exhibition at FEAST Projects later this month as part of this year's Le French May.
'I like to experiment and push the limits of what a medium is supposed to do. It gives me a kind of thrill to find a new way to manipulate the paint. I refuse to enter into a system of classical techniques producing automatic answers. It does not fit my work or my character,' she says.
Equally compelling are the cartoonish characters she paints; they could have come out of a children's storybook if not for the darker tones that characterise her works. Is this visual contradiction intentional? Mocquet says that before she begins on a piece, she has no preconceived idea of the composition, palette or image. Her creative process is organic and exploratory, she says.
'What I am expressing in my work is myself - Marlene Mocquet. If we are honest we would all admit to having contradictory aspects to our natures: a light side, a dark side, a bright mood, a black mood. I want to express the totality, not just one aspect or another.
'Also, I enjoy paradox - and material incompatibilities help produce them - sort of like a mirror existing between the benevolent and the malicious - between the opposing forces producing life.'
Philippe Koutouzis, director of FEAST Projects, says Mocquet is a rising star in the global art world. The Paris-based artist has already held a retrospective at the Contemporary Art Museum in Lyon and won art prizes and grants including the Pierre Cardin Prize.
Mocquet says she simply enjoys exploring. 'At some point in my life I had an irrepressible need to express myself, to allow my emotions and my unconscious to burst out. This resulted in a construction site for a universe - I use 'site' because it is still in progress. I don't work in series or repeated subjects, but there are recurrent themes. All these themes come out of me - I am their source and unifier. These works are basically all about me ... I leave the drawing of references to the viewer.'
Marlene Mocquet, FEAST Projects. 307, 3/F Harbour Industrial Centre, 10 Lee Hing St, Ap Lei Chau. Tue-Sat, 12pm-7pm. Inquiries: 2553 9522. Apr 19-May 26Topics: Paint Paint Painter Painter Kevin Kwong Kevin Kwong New York Times