Marisa Portolese is a Canadian-Italian, visual artist born in Montreal, Quebec. She is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University. Portraiture, representations of women, and figures in nature are recurrent subjects in her artistic practice. Autobiography and familial and cultural heritage are equally prominent themes explored through the genre of storytelling, the narrative still and moving image. She often produces large-scale colour photographs, rich in painterly references that concentrate on elucidating facets of human experiences in relation to psychological and physical environments regarding identity and spectatorship. She attempts to weave together gesture, affect, and the nuances of the gaze, to create an immersive and emotional landscape for the viewer.
Upon graduating with an MFA degree from Concordia University in 2001, she produced many photographic projects, which have received critical acclaim and featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions widely shown in Canada, Europe and the United States. From 2017 to 2019, she was the Artist in Residence at the McCord Museum in Montreal; her work during this residency culminated as a solo show and a catalogue publication entitled In the Studio with Notman. Alongside her exhibition record, critics have written about her work in various journals, magazines, newspapers, art books and periodicals, and she has three published monographs: Un chevreuil à la fenêtre de ma Chambre (2003), Antonia’s Garden (2012) and In the Studio with Notman (2018). She has been awarded grants from the Canada and Québec Arts Councils and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in 2022, she received a Concordia University Research Fellow Award. In addition, her works are included in various corporate, museum and private collections.