Marie Jacotey-Voyatzis is an emerging artist who recently collaborated with Alexander McQueen. The French artist conceived ephemeral installations for the windows of the McQ shop on Dover Street in Mayfair, London.
Drawing is at the core of her practice. Jacotey works quickly and mainly from imagination to capture an atmosphere, a mood, a moment. Drawing inspiration from internet platforms such as Facebook and Tumblr, her work explores social situations and involves a lot of observation of people’s behaviours.
She has an MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art and previously studied at École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. She recently presented an exhibition titled I never meant to hurt you, at Francis Carrette Galerie, Brussels and was part of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the Liverpool Biennale, and ICA London. She talks to Art is Alive about working with McQueen in this exclusive interview.
Please tell us more about yourself, are you a painter or an illustrator?
I am an artist; which means I work across media indifferently, painting, drawing, printing and various modes of presentation from edition to installation. I do also collaborate with magazines or brands for some illustration commissions but luckily, they usually get in touch because they’re interested in my overall work atmosphere, so I never have to strive too far away from my usual practice.
What are the main themes in your work?
I’m fascinated with human relationships and social interactions; I obsessively depict situations where couples, friends, families are observed questioning their bonds through fragmented bits of narratives.
Where do you take your inspiration?
I am obviously inspired by artists of all nature, drawers, painters, sculptors, etc (Blutch, Daniel Clowes, Hockney, Guston, Tal R, Paul Cox, Huygues, to only name a few), established but also emerging ones; their works but also chats with artists friends of mine are of a great influence on my practice. I am also massively taken by literature, novels mainly (Moravia, Duras, Sagan, Virginie Despentes, Catherine Millet, Fante, Bukowski, Kundera and the list goes on), comics, cinema, photography, fashion, design, architecture, random overheard talks, a night out at the pub, a walk in the countryside: simply anything really, from the most arty to the most mundane, are sources for content.
Are you represented by a gallery?
I am represented by Hannah Barry Gallery in London.
How did the collaboration with Alexander McQueen come about?
Very simply: they saw my work, were to launch this new range of bags called ‘Loveless’ and found an immediate connection between our narratives. From there, they asked me to imagine a series of works relating to this idea of a breakup and I imagined for them this character of a feisty girl recently dumped.
Are your works illustrating the bags as well? Or just illustrate the windows of the shops?
My works are not on the bags and are featured in the windows of the shop but the originals are on display in the underground space.
What does the brand mean to you?
To me, this brand simultaneously represents a dream of luxurious yet playful fashion as well as an incredible support for the young artistic scene.
Did you visit the exhibition presented at the V&A?
I was unfortunately unable to go as I was travelling a lot for various shows I had that year: you can’t have it all!
Did you collaborate with Sarah Burton directly?
I didn’t as I was working with the creative directors of the McQ accessories department.
What was the most difficult part in composing these new works?
I feel very lucky to say there was no difficult part about composing those new works!
Were they seen-before or completely new by the way?
How do you compose your works and what’s the relationship with the text?
I usually make the image first, then the text is the last part I add. Sometimes the text is in my head before I start the image and sometimes text happens as I’m working, whilst the image is appearing. They do occasionally remain speechless or purely abstract, as some sort of symbolic fragments and these tie the visual story together, like a graphic novel.
What’s the most interesting to you in the McQueen’s visual language?
Without hesitation, the darkness of it! The freedom, theatricality, romanticism and eccentricity oozing from it.
Can you give us more details on the party McQueen organised for you last June?
McQueen organised the launch of the Loveless range of bags at the Old Spitalfields Market shop simultaneously as holding a private view in the project space underneath it. I presented there a series of 5 drawings specially commissioned to accompany the bags, featuring them in the works, as well as a brand new series of paintings, of bigger scale and more abstracts, but playing on the same thematic of the break up. In that space, this mirror table where people were invited to write their anger out with lipsticks was also displayed. We ended up with a plethora of fun messages. They also had the most delicious cocktails made on the spot and a Tarot card reader! They were distributing small notebooks featuring reproductions of the drawings and some texts I wrote; I was signing copies at the launch.
What’s your next project?
I am working on developing various series of works; notably an animation project with Lola Halifa-Legrand, a book in collaboration with Rachael Allen and some bigger scale drawing and painting based-installations to hopefully show in the course of the next few months.