Graduated from Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières in 1977, Guy Langevin have made more than 60 solo exhibitions in Quebec, Canada, U.S.A., France, Belgium, Portugal and Germany. He has participated to more than 300 group exhibitions, throughout the world, including approximately 80 international biennials or juried exhibitions. Mainly known for his work in mezzotint, he received several awards and gives masterclasses of mezzotint in many countries.
His work is based on duality between fugitiveness of light and moment, and the perenniality of impressions people, situations and events make in our mind. As this duality, the work rocks between precision and blurry images. Haziness may be, sometimes, the more accurate way to express an idea. When the work speaks about human, or through the human image, it is important to have many level of reading. In my mind, that shows the complexity of life.
Deeply involved in his cultural milieu, at the end of the 70’s, he participated to the creation of Atelier Presse Papier, a collective professional printmaking studio, in 1984-85, he was president of the Quebec Printmakers’ association, and he is one of the founders of the Biennale internationale d’estampe contemporaine de Trois-Rivières. His experience is often required for juries, councils and curating.
Printmaking in Canada
Printmaking in Canada is a very important part of artistic ways of expressions. As everyone knows, the country is huge and population is very small, especially in comparison to China. The whole population of Canada is 34M, approximately the number of people in Chongqing area. So, the artistic milieu is spread in such a large territory, it create few small islands of creation in many parts of the country.
Making the choice of 15 printmakers in the whole Canada is a tough problem. The population of Canada is small, but the number of artists is large, mainly for few reasons; one of them is the distance between the places, but the main reason is the diversity of culture and origins of the Canadian population. The artists chosen for this exhibition come from all over Canada, some of them are leaders in the printmaking community, locally or nationally, they are the masters of today, some are up and coming artists, they will probably be the masters of tomorrow. All of them have works that are influencing and representative of Canadian art of printmaking right now.
As anywhere in the world, Canadian printmaking has two sides on its medal: the expression and the technique. Some artists have a great technical skill; some put the emphasis to the liberty of gesture and expression. They are all researching the Truth in they own way, their own manner, trying to respond their own questioning about art.
In Canada, printmakers have created a network of collective studios that covers the whole territory. Those collective workshop offer a large range of possibilities to artists in the field of printmaking and almost anywhere in the country, it is possible to find one of these working place. There are print studios, from East to West, in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Colombia.
The artists selected for this exhibition are involved in their artistic milieu and are representative of their community. They all works in Canada, some are born Canadians, some others are new Canadian; few are immigrants living in Canada. There is a large proportion of artists from the province of Quebec, it is my living place and may artists are very active in that part of the country, where 6M people are living in French in a continent of 300M English talking persons.
In that selection of artists, poetry is very present in the works, as well as figuration. At a certain level, all the artists make figurative works, sometimes very stylized, very gestually or with a great finesse. Some use color, but most of them make monochrome works. The technical skill is not related to culture or geographic, as the political involvement shown by the works themselves. Forms of poetries are multiple and diverse, as the works of these artists. Sometimes it tells stories, sometimes it gives emotions, and sometimes it shocks the limits of our understanding. Printmaking is close to poetry; it has been used and is still use in parallel with poetry in artist books and we can compare forms of poetry with forms of expression in printmaking.
Public will appreciate diversity of artists and expression. Many will enjoy the colourful images of J.C. Heywood, who is definitely a great master in the class of masters for his tremendous knowledge of printmaking, for the subtlety he can give to silkscreen printing. His good friend and wonderful printmaker Otis Tamasauskas proposes a lithograph made in a recent residency in Japan. He is one of those who really want to desacralize lithograph, teaching that “nothing is magic in lithography”. Joscelyn Gardner has been student of both Tamasauskas and Heywood. She shows a great technic quality in lithograph and a great finesse in drawing, but her works is also very related to her ancestor’s situation of slavery in Barbados. She talks with poetry about a very difficult subject.
Mylène Gervais’ images are related to the violence upon children. With symbolic elements, she shouts her opposition to any violence, physical or psychological, made to those who can not defend themselves. Jo Ann Lanneville expresses her hunger about inequities in our societies by creating abstract forms and textures with dry point and etching on large plates. Benoît Perreault gives a tragi-comic image of its society. He makes portraits with an ironic point of view on officials and leaders of western society, teachers, all what we call “good examples” of good citizen. Beside that, Guillaume Massicotte renders a view of ordinary life. His way to make the work is not so ordinary; printing and painting over already printed curtains.
Derek Michael Besant is one of the Canadian artists who is always in front of the new researches, looking forward and never forgetting a relation with traditions of printmaking. The works of Sean Caulfield are also well known around the entire world; he shows enigmatic and organic shapes with a wonderful technical skill and poetry. Working with the same technique of mezzotint, Guy Langevin’s works are based on duality between remembrance and forgetfulness, a struggle between life and death, light and darkness, using the human body, reshaping it. Remembrance has a different form for Bonnie Baxter, who shows clues of souvenirs coming from her youth, mixed with a description of a European road trip.
Mark Bovey’s lithograph is based on questioning the technique itself; this large format work is itself a performance to realize. Subtlety and great skill are both ingredients of Mitch Mitchell’s works. This young artist is on the way to become a very important artist in the Canadian printmaking milieu.
The 15 artists who are in this exhibition are very representative of the Canadian printmaking energy. All of them are involved in their workshops, in their regional and national milieu. With differences of age and career, they represent a spectrum of Canadian art. They all respond to the invitation to present their works with the same enthusiasm and the desire to create links between our two artistic worlds.