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Karine Rougier: Strong, Free and Mythological

May 10, 2019

Artist Karine Rougier talks to TLmag about the exhibition that’s currently on show at Fondation Thalie, where her atelier is reconstructed.

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With multiple exhibitions in various museums, like Museu Coleção Berardo and MAC Maja Arte Contemporanea, it’s easy to say Karine Rougier is a successful and dedicated artist. The vivid and perhaps even surrealist painter is based in Marseille, where she is currently exhibiting at Fondation Thalie. The institute is devoted to support, promote and disseminate contemporary creation and promotes cultural transmission. Which makes it no surprise that the institute shows her work in the immersive exhibition En Même Temps, Elle Sentit la Matière du Ciel. It shows a reconstruction of Karine’s atelier and her work is placed in dialogue with that of Alessandro Roma. Karine took time to sit down with TLmagazine to talk about her work and the exhibition at Fondation Thalie.

TLmag: Your style has been described as vivid, dreamlike and surrealist. How would you describe it?

Karine Rougier: I would describe it as very personal, but at the same time as very universal and uncontrolled. You could say I am two people at the same time, you can see that in the technique for example. The background is very abstractly painted, the second layer is much more controlled and full of symbolism. It is both at the same time.

TLmag: Symbolism is something that seems to come back in all your paintings. Which symbols come back most often?

KR: Everyone is welcome to interpret my paintings in their own way. I do offer characters and stories, but that’s not dictating the story viewers must see. The paintings that are shown at Fondation Thalie, mostly depict women. These women are connected to the sky and to the earth. To me, these are women of today that are engaged in rituals and very close to nature. Primal women.

TLmag: And what would you say is the story you are painting? Is it a way to explore femininity?

KR: Yes, and feminism. The reason I’m talking about womanhood is that I want to show wise women. Strong, free, connected to primal believes and mythologies. We’re almost in 2020 everything is machine centered. I really want to come back to old traditions. That’s the reason the materials I work with are wood, oil painting, and engravings.

TLmag: Congratulations on the exhibition En Même Temps, Elle Sentit la Matière du Ciel at Fondation Thalie, I was impressed with the reconstruction of your atelier there. Could you talk some more about this?

KR: Actually Nathalie Guiot -director of Fondation Thalie- created it. I met her two years ago when she visited my studio. She liked the place because it was full of books, images, and tables back then. And she was very curious about the space. In the end, she asked me to reconstruct my atelier at the Foundation.

I think it’s very interesting for visitors to walk around the work. They can see the images that are in the room and find them back in my paintings. It’s like a dialogue and it also shows the process of creation.

TLmag: And I was wondering if you could maybe elaborate a little bit on the dialogue you think that your work has with Alessandro Roma’s work.

KR: Well, I didn’t know him beforehand, Nathalie invited us both. When we met, we got on well and I think our work is very interesting next to each other. He works with ceramics, and with this medium, there’s a big difference between the beautifully glazed outside and the materials inside. And maybe that is where the answer lies on how our work works together.

It feels like if you would have an image of my painting and would open it, his work could be inside. I have this one painting of Pandora’s box, and his work just seems like a great answer to that: his work could be inside. 

Portrait © Fondation Thalie 2019

Soulever les frissons, 38x46cm, oil on panel, 2019.
Pandora, 38x46cm, huile sur bois, 2019
Ça n'arrive qu'une fois, 27x35cm, oil on panel, 2019
Autour de nous, détail.

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