Paul March is an English artist based in Geneva. He currently works mainly with clay, which he uses to explore ambiguity and indeterminacy using primitive and strangely elegant forms.
A previous career as a clinical psychologist specialising in neuropsychology left him with an enduring fascination with how the brain perceives objects. And so, as an artist he became interested in creating objects that defied categorization. In so doing he was increasingly convinced that the act of creation occurs, not in the brain but in the part of the world where the hand touches the clay. He is now using art as a tool of research to try and establish the whereabouts of creation and sensation. As part of this endeavour he is studying part-time for a DPhil (archeology) at the University of Oxford
The sensation of ambiguity, at both the visual and conceptual level, often coupled with the absurd, also runs through his earlier works in other media, including painting, photography, drawing and three dimensional installations. (See below for “A conversation with the artist”, February 22, 2013)
He studied fine art at the Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD) from 2001-2004; and ceramics and polymerization from 2009-2010 at the Centre d’Expérimentation et de Réalisation en Céramique Contemporaine in Geneva.
Et en français.....
Paul March est un artiste anglais basé à Genève. Actuellement, il travaille principalement l'argile dont il se sert pour explorer l'ambiguïté à travers des formes primitives et étrangement élégantes.
Précédemment psychologue clinicien spécialisé en neuropsychologie, cette carrière lui a laissé une fascination durable avec la façon dont le cerveau perçoit les objets- En tant qu’artiste, c’est ce qui se cachait derrière sa recherche de créations d’objets défiant la catégorisation. Au travers son travail artistique il devient de plus en plus convaincu que l’acte de la création se passe, ne pas dans le cerveau, mais dans le monde – précisément ou les mains touchent la terre. Actuellement il se sert de l’art comme outil de recherche pour établir la location spatiale de la création et de la sensation. C’est pour cela qu’il à recommencer ses études en faisant a mi-temps un Doctorat (archeologie) à l' University of Oxford
La sensation de l’ambiguïté, à la fois au niveau visuel et conceptuel, souvent couplé avec l’absurde, traverse également ses premiers travaux dans d’autres médias, y compris la peinture, la photographie, le dessin et des installations en trois dimensions.
De 2001 à 2004. Il a étudié les beaux-arts à la Haute Ecole d'Art et de Design (HEAD) à Genève ; et en 2009-2010 la céramique et polymérisation au Centre d’Expérimentation et de Réalisation en Céramique Contemporaine de la HEAD.
-Invited artist Artgenève
-GPS infini (with Rose-Anne Vermersch and Marie-Noelle Favre ) espace cheminée nord, usine kugler Geneva
- Substantia Innominata (with Rose-Anne Vermersch ) Galerie Marianne Brand Geneva
- Prehistoric Modernism, galerie annick zufferey part of the parcours céramique see le bilan
-Jomon Spider Kit, Musée Ariana Geneva
-taste contemporary craft at Artgenève
-taste contemporary craft at Artmonte-carlo
-in pulverum speramus at Musée Ariana Geneva
- Smoking Up Ambition Pavillon Sicli, Geneva
- BAZ'ART 2013, Geneva
- Extended Bodies, Villa Dutoit, Geneva (Curated by Philippe Barde)
- Sans titre, Galerie art one, Zurich
- Terra Fabricada - Ancienne Halle Berclaz-Métrailler, (Curated by Karine Tissot), Sierre, Switzerland
- Mulhouse 005, Mulhouse, France
- Not only but also, Espace force-motrices, Genève
- Les Strategèmes de l’écriture, bh9, Genève
- Les Strategèmes de l’ecriture, Galerie Andata-Ritorno, Genève
- Petite fabrique de l’image, bh9, Genève
- Association of Independent Art Schools (AIAS) Prize of Honour Exhibition, Seoul, Korea.
Art works in public spaces
- Suivant Liotard, Rue Liotard, Genève (2002 to present)
- Festival arbres et lumières, Genève (2004)
- 2015 : Prix special de Musée Ariana Geneva
- 2012 : Awarded a scholarship from the Fondation Bruckner, Carouge
- 2011 : Set design for new opera production, Le Procès de Michel Servet, Salle Centrale Madeleine, Geneva
A CONVERSATION WITH THE ARTIST
Before turning to art, you worked for many years as a clinical and neuro-psychologist. How does that show up in your art?
I have always been interested in how the brain recognizes objects. That has stayed with me. And it is what pushes me to try and create works that are visually ambiguous.
Also, I have always been intrigued by the fact that the vast majority of brain activity is unconscious. Although I am attracted to Freud’s vision of the mind, I don’t mean unconscious in the Freudian sense here. The whole way in which we recognize objects is not a process that we can make conscious, nor control. Conscious thought is just a tiny thread. I think that art offers a way to get a sort of glimpse of the unconscious.
A glimpse of the unconscious?
I mean in the way that we react to works of art. What interests me is the immediate, unconscious, pre-intellectual response to an art work – the space after perception but before the brain begins processing what we see.
I think that, with my own art, what I want most is for people to have some kind of sensation rather than a thought – a physiological rather than a purely conceptual reaction. I’m not alone in that. Francis Bacon was very interested in it. And “Sensation” was the name of the first big exhibition in 1997 of the Satchi group of British artists who influenced my generation. They were more interested in provoking a sense of confusion or anxiety than in creating something that was visually pleasing.
But Freud - There is surely something of him running through your work? All those big horns, and sperm swimming up clay urns…?
Not Freud. Sometimes a big horn is just a big horn.
But reproduction, yes. And death. More and more I have come to see my artistic endeavour – and maybe that of many other male artists - as being somehow about reproduction and death – although in ways that I don’t know if I can articulate.
You have talked about art as being a sort of “preparation for death.” How do you mean?
I think that my art – and a lot of art – is partly driven by an attempt to understand life against a backdrop of death. For me, Goya’s “black paintings” are the best example of this.
Even as the artist is exploring the notion of death, he has paradoxical thoughts of immortality. By creating a work of art, the artist injects an inanimate object with the capacity to communicate with his fellow human beings after his own death. I mean, Shakespeare is still talking to people 500 years after he died.
I am curious about the evolutionary basis of art - what it is that compels human beings to produce art. I think it may be different for men and for women. For men, I think there’s a certain amount of, well, “showing off.” That is surely connected with mate selection and reproduction. This is what started me off on the obsession that became my “Extended Phenotype” series.
Your previous works included paintings, photography, installations, drawing. But for the last couple of years you have worked exclusively in clay. What attracts you to clay as a medium?
First, ceramics escape dating – They can’t be so easily pinned down to a particular era or constrained by a manifesto. Even very contemporary-looking ceramic works can have an ancient feel about them. And vice versa. So that object that looks like a helmet (Extended Phenotype no. 3) looks like it may have been made any time in the last 3,000 years. I find that amazingly liberating.
Secondly, there is something about the interaction of clay in your hands that allows the decision-making process to take place outside the brain. So what starts as an intellectual concept is changed through the physical contact with matter. This is very important.
You talk very seriously about all this. But isn’t there something absurd in a lot of your work?
Yes. Irony is very important to my work. It is linked somehow to the sense of ambiguity that I was talking about earlier – but at a conceptual as well as visual level. I take serious subjects and treat them absurdly; and I take absurd subjects and treat them seriously. This adds to the visual confusion. In the end, I don’t really know myself what I do that is serious and what is ironic.
February 22, 2013