French artist Marion Colomer on the thread that binds her to India
“The people, the art of India inspires me,” expresses an excited Marion Colomer, a French painter settled in India since 2006. Colomer specialises in portraits, a genre through which she wanted to portray another image of the country and that's how she decided to be here. Merging embroidery and oils, Colomer has painted celebrated personalities like former cricketer Nawab Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, adman Alyque Padamsee, fashion designer Meera Ali, actor Kirron Kher as well as grassroots people like a collection on the Naxalites.
Delving deeper into the nature of her work, Colomer says, “My work is based on three cities – Hyderabad, Delhi, and Mumbai because I believe there is a lot of culture in these cities. In Hyderabad one can find rich Muslim influence. On the other hand, a perfect blend of Hindu, Muslim, and British cultures can be easily spotted in Delhi. And similarly in Mumbai there is Western, Indian, and Parsi influences in the society. Hence I am very interested in the story of the city and people related to the city. I use layers in my work which symbolise the complexity of the country and the society. I paint a picture which is very unclear, giving only a slight idea of a person in the painting.”
Colomer, who studied painting, lithography and photography at ENSBA in Paris, attributes a number of influences to Indian art traditions. “There are many Indian artists who influence me like Raja Ravi Varma, and Raqib Shaw, to name a few. My work has changed as it has become more complex and intricate. In my work, the idea of spirituality is merged with the traditions of European portraiture. I have, in turn, blended those with the Indian portraiture. Hence, my work has emerged as a bridge between two cultures.”
To create the intricate designs in embroidery on her canvas, Colomer works with local craftsmen. This interaction also enables her to get a better understanding of India. The artist who has just finished a painting based on the burning topic of Tiger for an NGO has had solo exhibitions with Alliance Francaise.