GREAT ENCOUNTER /

Joan Du­mou­chel

Magazin'Art - - Summary - Isa­belle Gau­thier

Pain­ter of mo­ments of in­tros­pec­tion, Joan Du­mou­chel probes the nuances of the hu­man psyche in a contemporary bo­dy of work that leaves room for ima­gi­na­tion. Her rea­lis­tic faces in­ha­bit dream­like uni­verses that are condu­cive to es­cape. Por­trait of an in­tui­tive ar­tist.

Joan Du­mou­chel has al­ways drea­med of be­co­ming an ar­tist. As far as she can re­mem­ber, the 63 years old ar­tist has al­ways lo­ved to draw. While she at­ten­ded art classes at UQAM, abs­trac­tion was the fa­vou­red style. Ho­we­ver, por­trait has long exer­ci­sed its fas­ci­na­tion on her. "My fa­vo­rite classes were on live mo­del. Char­coal in hand, I drew in­ces­sant­ly." Af­ter ha­ving taught visual arts for a few years, she is ap­proa­ched by the art sup­plies re­tai­ler Omer De­serres to hold trai­ning work­shops for art tea­chers. This connec­tion leads to ano­ther with the Li­qui­tex acry­lic paint com­pa­ny who sends her to En­gland, ac­com­pa­nied by a se­lect group of in­ter­na­tio­nal ar­tist, with the mis­sion of tes­ting their ma­te­rial. The ex­pe­rience pro­ved to be an un­for­get­table one, on a cultu­ral as well as an ar­tis­tic ba­sis.

It's around that time, af­ter a suc­ces­sion of events, that her ar­tis­tic ca­reer is de­fi­ni­te­ly laun­ched. Al­though art has been cen­tral to her life for quite a long time, Joan Du­mou­chel creates her first pain­ting at the age of 40. A first ex­hi­bi­tion in Ri­mous­ki in 1998 and then ano­ther in a La­val li­bra­ry ge­ne­rate en­ough in­ter­est to mo­ti­vate her to sub­mit her work to a few gal­le­ries. Wi­thin a few years ma­ny re­present her and in 2002 she de­di­cates all of her time to her art.

This mo­men­tum is ea­si­ly un­ders­tan­dable upon vie­wing Joan Du­mou­chel's bo­dy of work. The ar­tist has her own well-de­fi­ned style and her visual vo­ca­bu­la­ry is well-es­ta­bli­shed from the start. Her mas­ter­ful­ly pain­ted rea­lis­tic faces exist in an abs­tract world

where the ar­tist ca­re­ful­ly creates an am­biance while lea­ving en­ough ne­ga­tive space to al­low the spec­ta­tor to ima­gine the end of the sto­ry. Des­pite the use of cer­tain sym­bols, of char­coal and sten­cils, the whole re­tains an ai­ri­ness that well serves the mood of Joan Du­mou­chel's pain­tings. The dis­tri­bu­tion of co­lours, which she pre­fers sca­led down, is of­ten de­cli­ned from warm to cold.

It is said that art should raise ques­tions. Joan Du­mou­chel ap­pears to be playing with this prin­ciple by hap­pi­ly ex­plo­ring the cracks bet­ween mo­ments. The ins­tants she chooses to de­pict are dis­creet, eva­nes­cent, and even in­vi­sible to the un­dis­cer­ning eye. Her main ins­pi­ra­tion, the cir­cus, comes from her daugh­ter who hap­pens to be a cir­cus ar­tist and who is in fact fea­tu­red in ma­ny of the pain­tings. "I have al­ways been at­trac­ted to this world I find ins­pi­ring and that fo­cuses on the hu­man being." Thus the ma­gic of the cir­cus, but not en­ti­re­ly. She likes to paint backs­tage scenes, the ar­tists be­fore and af­ter their per­for­mance du­ring that short re­flec­tive mo­ment the content of which can on­ly be ima­gi­ned.

One of the chal­lenges ar­tists must ta­ckle is to real­ly get to know them­selves in or­der to ease the free flow of crea­ti­vi­ty. With ex­pe­rience, they be­gin to re­co­gnize their own me­cha­nisms and gain ma­tu­ri­ty in their ar­tis­tic pro­cess. Joan Du­mou­chel has tra­vel­led this crea­tive path and is well aware of her own abi­li­ties. She in­ter­sperses her pain­ting ses­sions with res­to­ra­tive breaks. "I need to be able to take these breaks wi­thout fee­ling guil­ty, other­wise I sa­bo­tage my own sys­tem." Thus she takes time to clear her thoughts. And then she gets sca­red. "I al­ways bring new ele­ments from one pain­ting to ano­ther. I'm al­ways fear­ful that ins­pi­ra­tion will stop, that I've rea­ched the li­mits of my abi­li­ties. Then, the ma­gic ope­rates and I am able to car­ry-on. Pain­ting is a real out­let for me, an ac­tual the­ra­py."

For this pro­fes­sed per­fec­tio­nist, lear­ning to sur­ren­der, to let the pain­ting go where it needs to go wi­thout trip­ping on de­tails, is an exer­cise in pa­tience. "The most dif­fi­cult is to trust your­self, to be­lieve in what you are," she says with convic­tion. Her work is im­pre­gna­ted with this concern for sin­ce­ri­ty and au­then­ti­ci­ty. To trans­mit her in­ner fee­lings, to ef­fi­cient­ly com­mu­ni­cate flee­ting im­pres­sions, this is where she needs to fo­cus her ef­forts. Ve­ry in­tui­tive, she en­ter­tains a qua­si-fu­sio­nal re­la­tion­ship with her fi­gures, al­most in­ha­bi­ting them un­til the pain­ting is com­ple­ted. First she traces the face with char­coal, then adds co­lours and tex­tures. These ti­me­less ins­tances un­fold in a me­di­ta­tive state where the ar­tist trusts her ins­tincts. Si­mul­ta­neous­ly wor­king on dif­ferent can­vases so­me­times serves as ca­ta­lyst to a tem­po­ra­ry ques­tio­ning. Joan Du­mou­chel al­ways fol­lows her in­ner com­pass.

She grew more confi­dent in her use of co­lour over­time, to­day using more in­ten­sive shades. "I've al­ways been ra­ther cau­tious with co­lour, most­ly fa­vou­ring beige," she says lau­ghin­gly. Her work has al­so evol­ved with the re­turn of cer­tain ele­ments that re­veal them­selves on the can­vas, the presence of char­coal being a concrete example.

Con­si­de­ring her­self as ve­ry for­tu­nate in her ar­tis­tic ca­reer, Joan Du­mou­chel has but one wish: to pro­duce a ti­me­less bo­dy of work in a world that is be­co­ming in­crea­sin­gly dis­po­sable.

Re­pre­sen­ted by: Ga­le­rie Blanche, Mont­réal Iris, Baie-st-paul Mi­chel Bi­gué, St-sau­veur Martin Gal­le­ry, USA Ma­ry Martin Gal­le­ry, USA Thomp­son Lan­dry, To­ron­to

Lé­gende équestre II, acry­lic on can­vas, syl­ver leaf and mixed me­dia, 36 x 60 in

Ap­pri­voise-moi, acry­lic on can­vas and mixed me­dia, 36 x 36 in

Si­lence, acry­lic and mixed me­dia on can­vas, 20 x16 in

Schei­la, acry­lic on can­vas, 24 x 24 in

Kloe, acry­lic and gold leaf on can­vas, 24 x 24 in

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