With his Rich and Dark series on display at Club Soda, Ottawa artist Marc de Cotret breaks the mould of abstract art; with his many influences and rich textures, his art must be seen to be believed.
Originally a mixture of collages and drawings, the Rich and Dark series captures the theme of confined energy and movement within the human body.
De Cotret, who graduated with honors, cum laude from Ottawa University in 2005, says the collage has always interested him as an art form.
Mixing black and white photography with drawing particularly appeals to him. “I think it creates a different level on how these works are perceived. It makes it less one-dimensional than basic drawing or photography can be. It makes it more textured.”
De Cotret says Club Soda was a natural choice as a venue to showcase his art, as its intimate space reflects the themes of the work.
“Club Soda has a very mellow, lounge feel when you first enter but once the lights go off and the music turns up, the energy breaks out of the frame of the individual and inhabits the entire place,” de Cotret says. “This atmosphere best mirrors my intentions.”
Many of de Cotret’s collage pieces explore themes of sexuality and androgyny. Curiously, de Cotret says sexuality doesn’t play as big a role as one would expect from a gay artist. But he noticed some interesting trends while studying art at university.
“When I went to art school most of the guys were straight and it was interesting. I would say that there are more and more ‘out there’ kind of gay artists, but straight artists are sort of going in that same direction, exploring sexuality and the human body.”
However de Cotret isn’t glued to just collage works. He’s explored all facets of art, and seems well versed in all areas for someone who’s just 24. In the past, de Cotret has showcased his drawing, photography and painting at such local venues as Gallery 115 and the Mercury Lounge.
As for influences, de Cotret cites female visionaries such as Francesca Woodman and Cindy Sherman.
One aspect of Woodman’s style de Cotret drew upon was her use of movement and dark themes. Woodman took her own life in January 1981, and although de Cotret’s themes may resonate with hints of Woodman, de Cotret says he knows to step back.
“You hear about it as a stereotype that artists are always in a struggle and having hard times,” de Cotret says. “I think it’s really important to have that kind of sense where you can make art that’s about depressing themes, but you don’t have to become so absorbed in it. I think a lot of people think that artists should be 100 percent absorbed in their art. It could work for people, but I really believe that you have to have that kind of separation. Even though I’ve drawn from [Woodman], I wouldn’t really go to her dark level.”
Whatever your influences may be, a night of dark art may the intoxication you’ve been craving. “One person described my pieces as being on E,” de Cotret laughs.