The Alchemical Furnace

These paintings were inspired by the powerful and wonderfully weird alchemical engravings of the 17th century, as well as my interest in Carl Jung’s work on the subject. The act of figurative painting itself is alchemy—mixing pigments with oils and making an image designed to trick the eye and seduce the viewer.  Although the bulk of these works use Northern Renaissance engravings as a starting point, their process is contemporary; the application of paint is immediate and expressive, and the colours are hallucinatory and strong. They are painted from a blending of my imagination and found images collaged together with my own photoshoots, largely with intimates and close friends. These works are a dreamscape fraught with the tension of self-transformation, and the sense that the characters themselves are about to wake. The themes of gender, sexuality as well as personal stories also help bring the subject into the 21st century.

To the mystics, alchemy was not about turning base metal into literal gold. It was about transcending the lower nature or using it as a catalyst for the transfiguration of the self. It was about self-realization, or psychological wholeness, as expounded by Jung. The nigredo, or blackening, is a stage of the alchemical process which is about death and decay, the shadow and the dark period which necessarily must come before the light can break, while the rubedo stage, the reddening, is when the impurities begin to be burned away through the heat of fire. In alchemy, Mercury, or the red man, is often present for this part of the process. The albedo, whitening, is when purification occurs—often shown in my work as a bride—and the final stage is citrinitas, the yellowing, when the gold emerges. With this stage comes the alchemist’s gold and goal, but this body of work celebrates the process of life in all stages, the individual’s part in self-creation, and the role of the artist as maker and thaumaturge, or alchemist. 

In this body of work, the characters are largely transpersonal and archetypal, often mythical. Feelings of sexual tension and danger are often present in my work, for they represent the powers and forces which drive us to create, the generative power which brings transformation and renewal. These dream-like narratives reveal the various incarnations of the many-faceted self. 

My project is a collection of works bringing the ideas behind alchemy into a contemporary light, full of hallucinatory colour and psychological implications. While the women in my paintings are nude, they are not sex objects, far from it, they are powerful, self-actualized women in process of transformation. They are open, free, growing and in tune with their sexuality, or whatever they wish to express. For me, in painting the purpose is the process, the joy of creation and discovery, traces of energy and life. It can be as simple as that. I want to create paintings that are as mysterious and puzzling as life is. My wish is for the viewer to be intrigued by the images, to enjoy their mystery and to potentially revel in seeing new aspects to them as long as they care to look. 

The Far Off Blue Places: Anjuli Rathod & Vanessa Brown

Anjuli Rathod and Vanessa Brown are emerging artists whose work interplays oneirically in The Far Off Blue Places at Projet Pangée, where the viewer becomes a shadow character from the works themselves, walking among pieces rendered alternately in two and three dimensions. Both artists present strong, whimsical, dreamy work that one can return to again and again to discover new elements and interpretations. The imagery and colour in these paintings and sculptures rhymes and riffs in a harmonious manner without feeling forced. The works in this exhibit are markedly influenced by surrealism yet also brings in contemporary concerns and display a love of materials as well as the symbolic.

Read the full article at The Belgo Report

Christian Messier: La Forêt s’en vient II

Christian Messier’s exhibition, la Forêt s’en vient II, or The Forest is Coming II, is a presentation of an exhibition organized by Galerie Verticale that was held in the new lobby of Salle André-Mathieu in Laval, which is intended to “professionalize their visual arts presentation”. This series of works was removed amidst some controversy earlier this year due to several complaints from the public after visiting the hall for a Bruno Pelletier show. The organizers demanded that six paintings be removed, to which, after a lengthy period of debate, Messier responded that the entire show must be taken down, asserting by an all or nothing policy that they are a whole not to be divided. These works on view at Galerie Laroche Joncas were displayed as they were intended to be exhibited, uncensored. The theme of proposals from which his work was chosen for the show in Laval was “the strange, humour and the grotesque”, presumably a response to the frequent stand-up comedy shows performed at the hall. Ironically, comedy shows gain nearly all of their popularity through bawdy humour, taboo, and controversial topics, but apparently, some nudity in the hall on the way to the show was too much for some visitors to bear, or at least for the Pelletier crowd. The six paintings which were censored did not feature simple classical nudity, as some of Messier’s works in this series resemble, such as the canvas of figures cavorting in an elegant circle la Matisse’s dancers. Instead, it was the works which displayed any semblance of sexuality, through the groping of breasts, implied orgies or sexual activity that the ones which stimulated complaint.

…. Read in full at The Belgo Report

Sébastian Maltais & Sebastien Worsnip

I’m writing for The Belgo Report, reviews and updates about what is going on in the biggest art centre in Montreal. My first two pieces were about painting, an encaustic series inspired by  the writings of Camus by Sébastian Maltais and abstract pieces of explosions by Sebastien Worsnip.

camus encaustic painting maltais