Exhibition easy hard


Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch

Marie Le Lievre’s practice is a poetry both personal and universal – a layering of drawing into painting that is delicately and determinedly interwoven. Both disciplines, drawing and painting that is, require touch. Le Lievre’s mode of painting involves pouring and paddling – a sensitivity to touch and viscosity – as medium is tipped and bled into oil paint creating lightness like lichen-creep across shimmering darkness.

Here in this new body of work, this signature filigree is often echoed by fine charcoal lines “scribbled” onto the oil paint. Drawing quite literally joins painting. And Le Lievre’s hand very obviously inscribes and animates her painted fields. A sense of movement and fluidity pervade both forms of mark-making, so the paintings seem almost to speak with one mind.

In Char Stoked (Notes) for example, a rich Madonna-like blue is heavily rendered with variously angled and rubbed charcoal lines. The whole is then plugged with a resonant magenta. In High (Notes), a similar energy of line and tone is busy like a thought-bubble, and connected tentacle-like to the painterly field below – an area typically duck egg blue beneath sensuous shades of darker blues and blacks.
But in the majestic title work of the show, the colour sense is different and there is plenty of it. Rarely has Le Lievre attempted to bleed and merge so many layers of crimson, yellow, orange and greeny blue. As she herself would have it, “this really was easy hard”! And one wonders whether we’ll ever see the likes of it again.