Asya Colie mounts an exhibition inspired by Asheville and Cotignac, France

LA VIE EST BELLE: “One thing [that] is really important in my life is to have so much support from my family and friends in Asheville,” says artist Asya Colie, who divides her time between France and Western North Carolina. Paintings inspired by both locales will be on exhibit at ananda hair studio through January. Photo by Luke Van Hine

Local painter Asya Colie has been involved with art, in various ways, for her whole life. As a child, she was always sketching. She helped her mother make wedding dresses, and, later, Colie worked in the fashion industry herself. In New York City, the French-born artist was involved with prêt-à-porter apparel and hair shows. Later, when she and her husband settled in Asheville, she delved into visual art, creating figurative images inspired by the fashion world and abstract canvases informed by nature.

Just as Colie has kept her previous occupations alive in her current work, she also remains connected — through painting — to both her Western North Carolina environs and her home in the south of France. “I enjoy painting in both places,” she says. “The paintings are the surroundings … the markets, the people, the vineyards — it’s nonstop color over there.” In Asheville, Colie is readying a collection that will hang in ananda hair studio for three months. An opening reception for that exhibition, titled Fleurs, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 20.

While in Cotignac, France, this summer, Colie had a show at Cercle des Arts, the gallery attached to her village’s 16th-century church. “It was an honor for me to show my art in such a great space, adjacent to 15th-, 16th- and 17th-century stone houses and buildings,” she says. “Just up the street, surrounding half the village, are the amazingly grand Troglodyte [grottoes] that make Cotignac so special.” That exhibition raised money for a school in Senegal.

Despite an obvious connection to place and to making artwork in response to her domain and myriad influences, Colie insists that it’s the creative process that excites her, rather than the outcome. “For me, I’m not attached to any of my art because I know I can do better, I can do more,” she says. “What I like is to see people happy. … In this life, nothing really matters because you can’t take anything with you. … All that matters is if you’re happy inside and that you share it.”

Just as she leveraged sales of her paintings in France to champion a good cause, in Asheville, Colie also likes to benefit deserving projects. She and her family currently sponsor the Asheville High debate team, of which her son is the captain. But as she describes her creative process, it’s clear that Colie would be moved to paint even if her canvases didn’t help to back worthy initiatives.

“I’ve started doing some little white flowers, but in an abstract way with some heavy paint,” she reveals. The title of her collection comes from this recent focus. “Nature, with wildflowers in every season, is inspiring in Asheville,” she says.

The ananda exhibition is a chance for Colie to showcase new explorations and favorite motifs. The show came about from a casual conversation about art, hair and fashion while at the salon — Colie says her exhibitions have tended to evolve that way rather than through artist calls or rigorous applications.

She continues, “I have some new, interesting abstracts that I’ve been working with. I’ve been doing a lot of faces [and] expressions. Flowers, ladies with hats.” Chinese, Japanese and Indian ink are new materials for her, which she started experimenting with this summer in France. There, “I was inspired [by] Arles [which has one of] the oldest aqueducts in the world,” she says. Back in Asheville, wild mushrooms have been a muse — especially one specimen that she describes as having a leopard-print look, and took her back, again, to the idea of fashion.

“I can’t say I’m a landscape person,” Colie admits. “I always want to do something that doesn’t exist. … My mind keeps jumping to different things, different styles.”

WHAT: Opening reception for Asya Colie’s exhibition Fleurs, asyacolieart.com
WHERE: ananda hair studio, 22 Broadway
WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 20, 7-10 p.m. On exhibit through Sunday, Jan. 6

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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