There's a lovely term that describes the twilight – the part of the day after the sun has gone down but before the sky is completely dark. This is 'the gloaming'. It's an old Scottish phrase, which shares etymological roots with 'glow'.
Artist Marc Chalmé might not recognise this unusual word. After all, many British people don't know it – and Marc is French. But the gloaming is undoubtedly where Marc situates most of his paintings. Its twilight glow is what makes the work so compelling. And Marc compounds the mystery by (mostly) removing people from his little vignettes. In so doing he creates a magical world where the human element has retreated and nature seems poised to take over.
The sense of 'in-between-ness' is very evident in landscapes such as The Station, Nightfall and Reflections. The sky broods. You can almost hear the owls. But the intrusion of nature is even more explicit in other works such as In The Breeze. Here, we see billowing curtains intruding into an empty sitting room, with an ominous wind picking up outside. It's all very dislocating. Almost supernatural.
In other paintings, Marc takes the ghostliness further. In The Yew Trees a strange orb hovers above ground, while Into The Dream re-visits that empty sitting room but this time includes a marble statue and an ominous dancing sheet. The jarring incongruity definitely echoes the work of De Chirico and Magritte.
Is it possible to locate Marc's strange landscapes in the real world? Not really, he paints them entirely from his imagination. But loosely they have their origins in Northern France, where Marc grew up. He was born in 1969 in Lorient in Brittany, and studied at art schools in Nantes and Rennes, then later with the acclaimed artist Georges Pichon.
Marc began his career as a painter and teacher in 1991, and hosted his first solo exhibition in 2005. Since then he has shown consistently in galleries across Europe, New York and Boston to great acclaim. His last major show was at the Galerie Claudine Legrand in Paris in 2022.
For all his success in international markets, Marc has never exhibited in the UK. Catto Gallery was excited to make contact with Marc last year and convince him to work with us. This exceptional show is the result – a rare chance for British art lovers to experience first hand the unique and thrilling work of a true European great.
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