Tigers in Los Angeles – Marie Peter-Toltz is as Fierce as Her Paintings


SHAKTI* (2016) 65 x 97 inches. Oil on canvas. (*SHAKTI is a Sanskrit word to describe a specific and unique feminine force relating to female powers).

Periodically Curating Los Angeles publishes guest posts that highlight an interesting facet of life in greater LA. While they can focus on people, organizations, or places, among other subjects, what I look for is an article with a LA focus that engages me personally. Today I’m pleased to present an original piece written by Sandra Bark about Marie Peter-Toltz, a painter who recently moved to Los Angeles from New York.

While she has lived in many cities over the years, Peter-Toltz finds that LA “is a combination of the two cities [she] loves the most – New York and Sydney. It has Sydney’s sky and strong colors (almost)… and a relaxed attitude due to an outdoorsy life style. It also has the energy of New York without being suffocating and overwhelming and without feeling disconnected from nature. LA is the perfect combination of both worlds.”


Guest post by author Sandra Bark
Photographs by Robert Banat

Marie Peter-Toltz brings with her an air of far away, and then she leans in close and all you can see is her. Like her paintings, she is vivid and she is personal, teeth and softness, energy and calm, warmth and focus, an eye that absorbs everything around her before she spills it back out on the canvas. A child of the globe, she has lived and worked in Vienna, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Sydney and New York (in looping and shifting order). You can see her work at Slag Gallery in Williamsburg (Brooklyn, New York), in Australia at Wagner Contemporary in Sydney and at BMG Art Gallery in Adelaide. And now the tigers have come to Los Angeles.


Marie Studio Shot 2016.

Her work: archetypes hovering between happiness and disaster, love and danger. Vivid blues and greens that mirror the colors of LA, sunlit with yellow and ochre, the lush figures of women, ferocious tigers, small children, mothers and fathers, a glimpse of palm and grass…Herself: carried in by the wind, layers of French chic, NY hip, LA cool, with messy blonde hair, and a gaze that pulls you in and peels your layers….

When I first met Marie, she was living in Brooklyn and on a book tour in San Francisco with her husband, the writer Steve Toltz, and she had long hair and wore glasses. Now the hair is short and fly away, and she and Steve have a child: their son Marlowe is the child rendered in ‘Je Suis Le Tigre dans la Montagne.’ The couple has installed themselves in LA to breathe and work under the desert skies. Along with Marlowe and Steve, all Marie brought with her were two suitcases and two hundred pounds of paintings.

The paintings reveal a dreamlike world of opposites and contrasts: tenderness and fear, attachment and rejection, presence and absence, love and hate, appearing and disappearing, the visible and the invisible, existence and expiration. According to the artist, her work is a vehicle for personal narrative and self-exploration as well as an exploration of female identity, the ferocity of the mother and child bond, and the magnetism of female sexuality. Her characters are corporeal and set in spaces of imagination and illusions, conveying desire, joy, symbiosis, energy, sacrifice and suffocation.

In the visual narratives of Marie Peter-Toltz, the space that separates is the material that ties us together.


Je suis Le Tigre dans la Montagne (2016). 72 x 72 inches. Oil on canvas.


Artist Statement

“Painting is a means to cast reality beyond the temporal and into the eternal. The pictorial space of a painting encloses a vast potential of form, color and composition. For me, that potential is like potential life.

My paintings express their inner needs to me, and I am here to help them exist. I give them form and bring them to light. As they come into being, I feel their air, their silence, their smell. They embody lust, pleasure, love.” 

Artist Bio

Marie Peter-Toltz earned her Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the New York Studio School. She was awarded the New York Studio School Scholarship and the Concordia Awards, as well as the LCU Award for Women. Born in France, she has exhibited in Australia, France and in the US. She was a finalist in various art competitions in Australia including: the Waverley Art Prize and the Portia Geach Memorial Award as well as the recipient of an artist grant and residency through the Vermont Studio Center (US). Her last solo exhibition Downtown Demoiselles at BMG Art in Adelaide (Australia) explored the visual dynamic and connectedness of personal history and historical paintings. Her work is held in private collections in Australia, New Zealand, the US, France, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria and the UK.