And all three did find success. Provost and Sokolowski started painting abstracts that became popular locally and beyond. Marquis headed in a different direction. He started out exhibiting his dark and dramatic portrait-like paintings, the artworld’s version of film noir, in such bars as Mercury Lounge, Market Station and Le Café 4 Jeudis. And then, in 2003, came his big show, a critical and popular success called Nature Boy, at the prestigious Galerie Montcalm in Hull.
But not long after, Marquis and his paintings disappeared. And then, suddenly in 2010, Marquis reappeared in a series of eye-popping publicity photos for his musical adventure called The PepTides. The publicity stills were artworks in themselves, courtesy of another rising star, photo-artist Jonathan Hobin.
The PepTides, initially, were not exactly a band, seeing as how the ensemble only contained Marquis, the effervescent Deedee Butters and largely computer-generated backup. But The PepTides, as much musical theatre as music, became a hometown success and blossomed into a crowded stage of nine singers and musicians performing at such venues as the Elmdale Tavern, Black Sheep, and Fourth Stage.
And now Marquis, the musician, wants to resume his painting career. But first, he wants to sell off his earlier canvases, most of them conveying a tragic tale. A one-night sale will be held May 4 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Patrick Gordon Framing, 160 Elm St. The public is invited. The PepTides will be serenading.
Marquis’s paintings have explored various themes: religion in such series as the Crusades, Satan and the Saints; character study in A Streetcar Named Desire and Nature Boy; and fatherhood in The Teflon Father.
In the artist’s own words, Marquis “captures the foreboding beauty” of his subjects “by combining portraiture in atmospheric settings, revealing both the stoicism and the vulnerability of humanity.”
Expect to see troubled characters pointing guns, tortured looking saints and sinners and daddies extremely hard to love. Examples of Marquis’s art can be seen on his Facebook page.
The following is an email interview with Marquis:
ARTFUL BLOGGER: Why and when did you stop painting?
CLAUDE MARQUIS: I was sitting on a mini-goldmine. The songs I had written since I was a young lad numbered in the hundreds. So I sold my tiny house in Hull and played a gambit: I bought some home recording gear and founded a new music project called The PepTides (inspired by the documentary What The Bleep Do We Know?, which deals with the neuropeptides of addiction). To do it right, I simply wanted to put all my time and energy into music at the time. Now that The PepTides are firmly grounded with six albums recorded and a great band to boot, I can return to painting as planned.
AB: Many of your older paintings are very dark. People (even some children) are pointing guns. There are images of people who look like the newly dead. Why all the gloom?
CM: Guns, kids, death, religion, zombies. Perhaps I was prophesying current headlines. The trick is to not create shock art for shock’s sake but to capture an atmosphere of unease while still creating something of beauty.
AB: You were painting abstracts for awhile. Is that what you are doing now?
CM: I’m back to painting people. Portraits, but within themes. I’m currently working on an installation of sorts: 20 paintings, 10 of a dude and 10 of a chick in the same pose but with colour changes in the skin as the background evolves from dawn to dusk. If this were another prophecy, it might mean that we are running out of time.
AB: Is Claude Marquis the musician very different from Claude Marquis the painter?
CM: We are both very dedicated to our crafts. We both have to spend many hours alone to create. We both observe humans in fascination and dread.
AB: Tell us something absolutely wonderful or shocking about The PepTides these days.
CM: We are wonderfully and shockingly talented. There’s enough talent to forever create music and concepts for more albums and live shows. At first the band revolved around my songs, but now all nine of us, singers and instrumentalists, are composing music and writing lyrics. We all came together to create our last concept album, Revenge of the Vinyl Cafe, a collection of songs based on the short stories in CBC Radio host Stuart McLean’s recent book. That, and there may be a costume change at our future live shows involving leather and chaps.