Maria-Theresia Mathisen, Jill Mulleady and Cornelia Mensdorff-Pouilly (clockwise from top left) in the grand hall
Each summer at her family’s fairy-tale castle above the Côte d’Azur, curator Maria-Theresia Mathisen hosts young artists’ residencies. Local celebrity Simon de Pury travelled up to photograph ‘MT’ and her latest charge, Jill Mulleady. MT gives us a tour
Castel Caramel is our private residence-turned-cultural platform in the south of France. My mother Cornelia Mensdorff-Pouilly used to be the manager of the late Austrian artist Ernst Fuchs and they bought the house in 1988 for his countryside atelier. It was secluded but near enough to buzzing Monte-Carlo where he had his residence and a smaller atelier by the port.
I was only five years old back then and grew up in what was not only an artist’s studio but also a meeting place for many other artists and collectors. I loved witnessing the creation of art and the exchange of minds, so when Fuchs passed away in 2015, I decided to continue this tradition.
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After renovation and expansion, we formally established the Castel Caramel Artist Residency in 2018. Canadian painter Chloe Wise was the first official artist-in-residence and while there she invited her muses and collaborators to visit, making for a colourful and inspiring atmosphere. The house had fully come back to its creative life.
Since then, artists Korakrit Arunanondchai, Ben Wolf Noam and Jill Mulleady have been in residence. Others came to visit, including Martha Kirszenbaum, Jon Rafman, Precious Okoyomon, Bonaventure (Soraya Lutangu) and Alex Gvojic.
It is important for us to give back to, involve and connect with the arts community on the Côte d’Azur. Therefore, during each residency, we host artist and curator talks and screenings as well as intimate dinners. We welcome both local and international collectors, curators and all other art aficionados.
The 2021 Castel Caramel artists in residence are Gerard & Kelly and Sedrick Chisom. For more information visit: castelcaramel.org
Jill Mulleady and her painting Gardens of the Blind
“This painting was dubbed, jokingly, ‘the Masterpiece’ by the artist and her gallerist. Seen in person, this impressive work really is a masterpiece. The mysterious figure in the midst of an apocalyptic landscape reappears in another painting Mulleady made at Castel Caramel. In this second work, the figure has aged. Jill often plays with shifting temporalities and connecting stories in her work.”
Castel Caramel, 2020
“The grand hall (see top image) is the main space of Castel Caramel. Sometimes it is in complete chaos, at others it becomes very elegant as it turns from artist’s studio into a ballroom. With 7m-high ceilings and a 140sqm space – built in the 1950s, it used to be a restaurant – there are barely any limits as to how big an artwork can be produced here. It was also the main reason why Ernst Fuchs bought the house. He was able to work here on a monumental scale, with light through the many windows all around and large doors onto the terrace. It is the perfect studio space!”
Maria-Theresia Mathisen, Jill Mulleady and Simon de Pury (from left) on the terrace
“Simon had driven all the way from the Swiss Alps by himself in order to meet us for the shoot in the afternoon. I always admire how much energy he has! Although it was almost 6pm, it was still very hot. The bronze sculpture of a guardian angel is by Ernst Fuchs.”
Maria-Theresia Mathisen at Castel Caramel in 1988
“This is me with my Barbie dolls in the grand hall surrounded by paintings by Ernst Fuchs soon after he and my mother had bought Castel Caramel in the late 1980s.”
Jill Mulleady, her daughter Olympia and Maria-Theresia Mathisen (from left) by the pool
“Our artists-in-residence usually invite collaborators or muses to visit them during their residency at Castel Caramel. Jill brought along her daughter, which was a first. The little girl ended up doing some painting as well.”
Patrons’ dinner for Jill Mulleady
“Towards the end of each residency, we host artist/curator talks and dinners in honour of our artists. This was the second dinner we held for Jill Mulleady last year, which followed a conversation between the artist and curator Martha Kirszenbaum. To be on the safe side, we made sure to keep enough space between guests and we also had two extra tables set up on the terrace for those more concerned about Covid-19.”
Installation by Korakrit Arunanondchai
“It was a wonderful coincidence that our Thai artist resident Korakrit Arunanondchai developed his exhibition for the Vienna Secession at Castel Caramel, which used to be the atelier of a Viennese artist. Ernst, my mother and I are all from Vienna.”
Ernst Fuchs at work
“Fuchs chose to buy Castel Caramel mainly for its ceiling height and good lighting conditions. He was able to work on his monumental paintings, some as high as five metres. He always worked on several paintings at the same time, with some taking many years to be finished.”
This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue, on sale now.