Essay Auckland Art Fair Catalogue


Marie Le Lievre

Marie Le Lievre is primarily an oil painter renowned for her sumptuous surfac- es, but her practice also traverses drawing and painted photographs. Paint poured, wet layer on wet, is, in her work, allowed to dance and perform, within constraints conceived by the choreographer artist. Deep abstract pools of oil speak to the world from a strangely in-between, liminal space.

Le Lievre is carving out a distinctive terrain in her painting. Her work is both sensuous and intellectual – inward-looking and out-reaching at the same time. Underlying the rich depths of her surfaces and the layers of oil paint, slowly built up on top of each other, is an engagement with the history and politics of painting and an interest in disrupting notions of purity, and teasing the bound- ary between abstraction and figuration, painting and drawing. Revealing and concealing, layering and veiling, Le Lievre plays with existential themes of cha- os and order, which underpin all her work. This is painting speaking to the complexities of contemporary artmaking.

Le Lievre’s practice can be seen to sit in a historical trajectory of female sen- sibility in abstraction that is foremost about feeling. Her work, existing in the space between what is seen and what is felt, has been linked to that of the famous 20th century American abstract painter Agnes Martin, not for what is painted, but rather in terms of the parallels in looking to represent a distinctive female, feminist way of being an artist and addressing interior states and a sense of the spiritual.

Le Lievre completed a Master of Fine Arts with distinction at the University of Canterbury in 2008. She has exhibited throughout New Zealand and in Aus- tralia, France and Japan. Her work is in private and public collections and has been written about extensively. Le Lievre is a recipient of an Arts and Cultural Heritage Award and in 2020 a CNZ Continuity Grant.

“...while the paintings can be enjoyed for their gestural magnificence and the meditative beauty of their glazes, there is a rich vein of humanism, feeling and spirituality at play as well.”
Andrew Paul Wood, Art News New Zealand