The story behind ‘Grace Forever’ at the CHPG

Local artist Marcos Marin talks to Monaco Life about his latest instalment of Princess Grace in the maternity ward of the CHPG and what it was like to watch Prince Albert unveil the portrait.
It was a special day for everyone on 9th February when ‘Grace Forever’ was officially unveiled at the Princess Grace Hospital Centre, particularly for its creator Marcos Marin, Benoîte de Sevelinges who requested the work, and Prince Albert, her son.
Just as she cared for the citizens of Monaco for 26 years, Princess Grace now looks upon those who come to bring new life to the Principality or pray in the hospital chapel.
But it is not the first portrait of Princess Grace that Brazilian artist Marcos Marin has lovingly created and, as he revealed to Monaco Life, it certainly will not be the last.
Monaco Life: Where did the inspiration for this portrait of Princess Grace come from? 
Marcos Marin: Finding inspiration to make a portrait of Princess Grace is relatively easy in the face of so much beauty, serenity and history of an icon. I was motivated to create it after the director of the Princess Grace Hospital Centre (GHPC), Benoîte de Sevelinges, said that she wanted to have a new, large portrait of the princess. I am also in the middle of a project called ‘Grace Forever’, which is a series of portraits, sculptures and Grace paintings. So, finding a prestigious location among a magnificent art collection, that of the CHPG, was a union of desire, opportunity and fulfilment.
Can you tell us about the artistic process?
This portrait of Grace is a 230x200cm acrylic painting on canvas, which occupies a floor to ceiling space at the entrance of the maternity ward, embracing anyone who enters into a spiral of lines from the pupil of Grace’s eyes.
A study of the dimension of the hall and the movement of the spectator in the passage gave rise to the concept of the work. I chose a picture of Grace when she was a princess – serene, kind and engaging.
After deconstructing the picture into almost abstract lines, I did the physical hand execution of the work in my studio in Torri, Italy. The work was then assembled on stretcher wood and framed in Ventimiglia. There was already a robust wooden structure at a perfect angle at the hospital, and we used it to support the work, which finally became a mural.
Can you tell us more about your ‘Grace Forever’ project?
In 2019, it would have been Grace’s 90th birthday, and it was Prince Albert’s wish to celebrate in memory of his mother. Luciana de Montigny, a friend of the Prince, encouraged the organisation of a series of events, and a large gala was celebrated at the Hôtel de Paris in Monte-Carlo on 2nd November 2019. I was invited to present a sculpture also entitled ‘Grace Forever’ that would be co-signed by Prince Albert. The work was auctioned for charity.
Another similar sculpture, but three-metres long, was presented in Paris at the Mostra GV Monumental. Other editions of ‘Grace Forever’ sculptures were also presented at the New York Princess Grace Foundation Gala in 2019.
With the pandemic, other ‘Grace Forever’ projects were interrupted, until finally in December we installed Grace’s large portrait at the Monaco hospital. It was officially inaugurated on 9th February when Prince Albert also co-signed the work.
Another similar painting, part of the ‘Grace Forever’ project, will be presented in Singapore at the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Gala in November 2021.
This huge and audacious project was carried out thanks to the great patron and art collector Riccardo de Caria, donor of the work to the hospital.

Prince Albert co-signed the ‘Grace Forever’ portrait by Marcos Marin

What was that moment like when Prince Albert officially unveiled the portrait of his mother in front of other key Monegasque personalities?
Despite the strict protocol surrounding Covid-19 and also out of respect, the atmosphere was smooth and serene, with a certain emotion that Grace’s face exudes. The strength of art spoke for itself.
For us, Grace is the princess, the Hollywood actress. But for Prince Albert, it is a portrait of his mother; he had another emotional perspective.
Also in attendance at the unveiling were Minister of Health and Social Affairs Didier Gamerdinger, Chairman of the Board of Directors at CHPG André Garino, Director of the Hospital Benoîte de Sevelinges, artist and President of the Brazil Monaco Project association Luciana de Montigny, and a representative of the patron, Riccardo de Caria.
How do you feel about the portrait’s positioning in the maternity ward of the CHPG?
I am very happy that once again my work of art is a vehicle with which people can honour the memory of Princess Grace and her legacy to the Principality of Monaco, a country that has welcomed myself and my art. I know how much Princess Grace is respected by her people and how her beautiful story still enchants the world.
My portrait is situated next to incredible works of art by great masters, such as the huge Vasarely installed nearby in this wing of the hospital. Art plays a very important role in Monaco and this is vividly present in its history. I hope my Grace can embrace the hearts of the people who go there at the entrance to both the maternity ward and the chapel of the hospital as well.
How many portraits of Grace Kelly have you painted so far?
I think I have already lost count, but at least 15 very important portraits have been made in these past 16 years of living in Monaco – works that found brilliant destinations, fulfilled charitable missions and are part of the history of Monaco.
A Princess Grace sculpture by Brazilian artist Marcos Marin

Can we expect more unveilings of your work soon?
I hope so. I am waiting for my schedule of events in Monaco, since we have reworked many plans due to the pandemic. At the beginning of March, I am due to inaugurate an imposing public monument in Ventimiglia at Cala del Forte, where an extension of the port of Monaco is located. And I am preparing some portraits of personalities for the Monte-Carlo Television Festival scheduled for June and the Cannes Film Festival in July.
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Interview: Brazilian artist Marcos Marin