Painter of space-time landscapes
Marie-Dolma Chophel was born in Châtenay-Malabry, France and earned her Master's Degree in Art from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris in 2008. In 2014, Chophel was awarded a residency and fellowship from the Sam and Adele Golden Foundation. Chophel's work has been shown at SAGG Gallery, the University of Colorado Art Museum, Queens Museum, Fleming Museum, Samuel Dorsky Museum, and most recently at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaekel. Chopel's work has also been exhibited abroad in London and Hong Kong in the Rossi & Rossi Gallery among others. She currently lives and works in New York.
How long have you been in New York? What brought you here?
I’ve been in New York for a little over five years now. In 2008 I graduated from the Beaux-Arts school in Paris. During my postgraduate year I started to share a studio in Paris with a friend I had met at school, and we had built a great community of fellow artists over these years, mostly painters. After a few years I started to feel that I needed to explore and experiment with something new, out of my comfort zone, in order to go further in my work. Coming to New York was kind of a dream since it’s a huge platform for international artists, and from what I had heard it was more open to painting compared to Paris. Paris was much more oriented in installation, conceptual and performance art at that point.
How has your experience been working as a young artist in the city?
It’s been really challenging. When I arrived in NYC I didn’t know anyone in the art field and I had no reference points in that city. I started to work at my place right away as I didn’t bring any of my work from France with me and had nothing to show. It was a fresh start. Progressively I started to look around, discover venues and see shows, meet new people. The art scene is so wide and the hustle and bustle of this town so intense, it can be as scary as it is exciting. It is a struggle which most young artists and artists in general find themselves confronted to I guess, but it’s also a wonderful way to push your limits and question your practice in order to enhance it. These things take time.
Why is it important for you to be part of an artist community?
It can help you get out of your bellybutton. When you work alone all the time, making your own schedule, it is easy to forget about what’s outside. It’s enriching to exchange with artists who have either similar or completely different ideas or concerns and can help you develop your own work while seeing things through a slightly different angle. It adds facets to the prism.
Your work feels incredibly 3-dimensional for painting. Have you always worked in 2-dimensional mediums?
I came naturally to painting—it is something I never really questioned, although I was feeling somehow frustrated sometimes with the flat surface and the constraint brought by the frame of a canvas. It was difficult to excavate something from it, make things appear with depth and mystery, as if they were coming from the other side of the mirror. I like this challenge. I painted landscapes pretty much from the start, they were much more figurative than suggestive back then. I think I was afraid to fall into something too abstract. With time, I started to use more geometric shapes and graphic lines, and then topographic grids I had made on computer, mixed with organic forms and colors. I wanted to challenge the surface, to give it depth, to play with different scales, to extend the landscape, embrace scales from the universe to an atom and vice-versa. I tried some sculpture and mosaic as a student. At some point I would like to explore 3-dimensional mediums again.
You’ve said before that your work deals with sorting through the simulated world that technologies like the Internet create. Does your work break through this simulated world?
Well I believe it is completely part of it. I like to see my work as some kind of inner mind’s cartography, various but related shapes and lines that coexist in a same space with different languages, connecting all points. Some are really smooth and related to shapes you can see in nature, some are much more inorganic, geometric. It’s a variety of adding and disrupting, it is a lot about instinct and control, the meeting of extremes. It’s funny how images [on the internet] and now virtual reality, build experiences in our minds, as if it was a part of us although it hasn’t actually been experienced in a sense. Virtuality is a new angle to reality, more layers of images and information coming to us in a constant flux, ever expanding.
How did your interest in the relationships between space and time originate?
I’ve always had a deep relationship with nature. These moments when you actually find yourself in nature is a good reminder of what your place is in this world— you think “yes, I’m just a speck of dust in this whole universe.” It’s cosmic. And the vertigo that I feel at this point is what I’m looking for when I am painting, this kind of awareness.
How do you use social media as an artist?
I mostly use Instagram, and I generally post details of my work in the process so people can see different steps. It’s funny because I really use Instagram almost as a notebook, a reminder of what stage I was in at some point, and then I can see where it goes from a distance, which is very helpful.
Interviewed by Madeleine Le Cesne
Meet more members of our community!