The intelligent and richly layered paintings of Claudia Marseille convey her deep respect for time and materials. They have an unmistakable presence, like an ancient wall, rich in history. She will patiently apply as many as 20 layers of glazes or encaustics to give the painting history and depth and then begin excavating and building. Her concerns as an artist center around color and texture. The viewer is able to experience both the complexity and the enjoyment of the process. What is remarkable about Marseille is that she is able to maintain a consistent aesthetic and quality in the work while managing to evolve and change with every new painting.
Marseille’s interests in time and complexity go way back. She has a master’s degree in archaeology from the London Institute of Archaeology and once made her living in that field. A painting class that she took many years ago changed her course and she went back to school studying both with individual teachers and taking classes at the California College of Arts (then the CCAC). She went on to earn her masters degree in Fine Art from John F. Kennedy University. While all this was going on, she also distinguished herself as a fine photographer, which no doubt continues to inform and refine her capacity to “see” the complexity of everything around her.
Increasingly I search the streets of my urban world, often seeing beauty where others may not. Discarded objects, recycled materials, graffiti, torn flyers, rusted metal all provide a bridge between my inner world and the outer landscape of urbanization and globalization. I apprehend and appreciate the life and beauty that urbanity offers us-- weathered through time, distinguished by history, and marked by human presence. I am less interested in what is uniquely personal to me, but rather, am engaged by the universality of the human experience I find in the residue of urban spaces. I scour the streets of my native San Francisco Bay Area, but also foreign cities, for images, inspiration and influence, which I then reconfigure into paintings constructed from wax, collage, and transfers from my photographs. The layers of wax create a sedimented history of my impressions and thought. This new series of encaustic paintings was generated by my trips last year to Scandinavia and Argentina. I love encaustic painting for it is a very direct, physical and alchemical process. Each layer of wax, after it is applied onto a wooden panel with a brush, is fused with a paint stripper, hot iron, or blowtorch. The work is then altered through the application of additional layers, and by scraping off sections with razors and scratching into it with sharp points. Oil paints are rubbed into indentations and wiped off. This produced either a thick, gritty surface, or a thin translucent veil hinting at what else the painting might have been. The melting process can be unpredictable though, and sometimes strange results can occur. This forces me to be flexible and to remain open to the myriad possibilities that this medium allows.