Ottawa
2 min

Cleansing demons

Claude Marquis' takes his serious work in stride

DISTANT FATHERS TO DEATH. "I guess I get it out in my paintings," says Claude Marquis. Credit: Capital Xtra files

Local painter Claude Marquis has a new beef he’s committing to canvas – and this time it’s about love.



“I dated a younger guy, I gotta get it out of my system,” laughs the Hull artist of his newest series Generational Love – a break from his more traditional religious themes. “Claude is available,” he says of himself. “He’s looking for true love.”



Marquis has brought canvas to life with oil and acrylic for more than 10 years now, with a distinct style that has made portraits, cigarette smoking, boxy houses and tank tops trademarks all his own. His work has graced the walls of kitschy clubs and galleries in Florida and Ottawa and the people who know him best are usually his subjects.



“I paint whoever’s available around me and if it works with the theme I’m doing,” says Marquis of his signature portraits.



The theme, it would seem, is often religious. And through his series like Eden, Bogus Saints, Limbo, Witch Hunt and Crusades, Marquis has worked through some of the awkwardness that comes with growing up gay in a Catholic high school in Quebec.



“I really don’t consider my art gay, but I guess the way it does come out is through religion and my possible frustration with religion,” he muses. “I haven’t touched a religious theme lately. I guess I’m cured now,” laughs the recovering Catholic turned atheist. “I’ve dealt with it. I guess I get it out in my paintings.”



But Marquis has explored numerous issues in his career, including death and distant fathers. His series Teflon Father began with an inspiration from a magazine writer who coined the term and his own father proudly posed for him.



“As opposed to a mother, a father will either withhold his affection or can be the distant parent, and that’s okay because he’s a man and he behaves that way,” explains Marquis of the Teflon Father.



Marquis’ father died three years ago, at peace with his son.



Marquis’ creative mind also took him through a slightly devilish period when he explored the colour red and a Satan theme. “The whole Satan issue is sort of five or six paintings that look like posters. Like Satan’s on tour, like a rock band. He performed at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield,” laughs Marquis of one of his exhibits.



While Marquis’ work looks serious, he takes it all in stride.



“I’ve always found my work heavy and somber so I always found it fascinating that people buy these things and hang them in their homes with Satan and dead bodies and stuff.”



His Corpses series was another exploration in colour – the colour dead.



“But also, my best friend died in front of me, so got that out, yeah,” he adds quickly. “The more intense stuff is gone… don’t need a therapist.”



When asked if he’s featured in his own work, Marquis says never, despite the name of his website, the Mirror Gallery.



“I did a portrait of myself, but it just freaked me out. I painted over it,” he admits, adding that any subject, even himself, is nervous about the way a painter will depict you. “You don’t know what the painter’s going to do with you.”