press release

LORDS OF MUSIC "In the genre of portraiture, the rock star as contemporary icon holds enduring fascination for those who vicariously follow their very public private lives. Many have died young while others have either gracefully aged (Iggy Pop) or become caricatures of themselves (Meat Loaf, Ozzy Osbourne The fallen star in rock and roll history is replete with larger-than-life tales of glorious artistic heights, scandalous exploits, personal tragedy, premature death, and spiritual redemption. Through their music we glean certain characteristics about their personalities; the songs convey life experiences. The truly gifted ones write on their own or collaborate on the actual material and with special skill play one or more instruments. Their range of singing style makes them distinct from one another; hearing Mick's wailing, Dylan's crooning, a Patti Smith poem song, or Lou Reed's vocals takes the listener to a time and a place. As an occupational hazard, the rock-star holds a candle to our dark-side. Nearly all have gone through the proverbial right of passage; a musician's drug bust or OD, a hotel-suite thrashing after a boozy night of partying, or spats with pretty female companions captured by paparazzi. Cultural interest in the lives of musicians, especially from rock music has always held intense fascination since the early days of Elvis. Kurt Cobain shot himself, Elliot Smith overdosed, Pete Doherty is in and out of rehab, and countless other clichés about fame and the fall from grace play out in the mainstream media. Such richness of storytelling material is prime fodder for Servane Mary. Her portraits cut past the mass-media dream machine with its hero worship, mythologizing, and distortions. They are more like mental studies of performers where she defines the psychological make-up of said personas. Distant from biographical narrative, this is not an idolatrous encounter but a gray-zone area of intimate subject matter. Most images capture that in-between state where the halo of the stage performance segues towards private moments backstage. These are the wear and tear "come back down to earth" moments when the entertainer decelerates from a high-octane expenditure of energy. Perhaps they are in their dressing room or lounging with other people, the hangers-on, fans, friends, guests, and reporters but they seem immersed in their own isolated thoughts that come with the decompression of post-performance. It's important to note that Servane Mary is less concerned with creating a social reading (as in Warhol's fixation on fame) on the cult of celebrity than on manufacturing a personalized aesthetic about the aura of the famous. In the picture's flatness you'll recognize some faces more than others, as the drips and splotches of sumi ink hazily converge on the paper. They are unlike the hagiographic portrayals found in the paintings of Elizabeth Peyton or the appropriative contextual strategies used by Karen Kilimnik. Like private alters from the pages of a fan's diary there is of course a certain romantic analogy. Her painted faces avoid the idealization one may find in a photograph. Instead she presents you with the re-imaginings of the female gaze, and poetic restaging of the glamour myth. "

Max Henry

ON STAGE "Like a true fan Servane Mary accumulates, one by one, portraits of rock stars in an obsessive manner. She paints them frozen in the electric atmosphere of live performances. These characters, who appear from a distance, towering over the crowd, are always at the centre of attraction of the collective experience, embodying those of all rock'n roll bands. The portraits appear like moments stolen from the electric audience of packed concert halls filled with damp and smoke.The artists seem to be captured in a magical moment, and in a particular theatrical gesture: Like the singers on stage Servane produces live drawings, with no second thoughts, rather nourished by the possible accidents that these performances imply. No way back. The specific esthetics of her watercolors evokes the images caught by twinkling cell-phones during the concerts. Who do we see? Jimmy, Mick, John, Pete… all the rock'n roll stars we think we know and recognize in all of Servane's creations ? Or more simply normal people striking rock poses in front of their mirror?"

Jerome Sans

Servane Mary was born in 1972. She lives and works in Paris and New York. Her works have been recently exhibited in Los Angeles (solo), New York (Alona Kagan Gallery), Miami (Art Basel Miami Beach) and Paris (FIAC).

Servane Mary
Works on Paper