Parle-moi d’amour

could me translated as “tell me about love”, but the expression really means sweet talk me into love. In the classic romantic song “Parlez-moi d’amour“, the lyrics tell how words of love can soften the bitterness of life.

Every year in Montréal, an important fundraising event called “Parle-moi d’amour” takes place in Montréal, curated by Les Impatients, a nonprofit organization that offers free creative workshops to people with mental health issues.

In this exhibition and auction, the artwork created in the workshops is hung along those of professional artists, and all profit generated is dedicated to supporting this mission. I will be participating in the 2019 edition, with the above watercolor, “Orange in August”.

I invite you to come and talk about love to some of us in great need of it. This is a wonderful opportunity to buy a work of art while contributing to a worthy cause.

When: February 13th to the 27th
Where: Atrium of the Wilder building, Espace danse,
1435 Bleury Street, H3A 2H7
Opening night: Friday, February 15, 2019
Louise Jalbert, “Orange en août”, 2017, Watercolor on paper, 11 x 15 inches, framed
Photo Guy L’Heureux

Looking at a Joan Mitchell Painting

Following last week’s photo essay on people in museums, this week features Joan Mitchell’s paintings.

Joan Mitchell’s paintings exude a raw energy, intense, even furious at times that cohabits with a lyricism and subtlety that is not always visible at first glance. Beyond the mere interpretation of a landscape, we can see a vivid expression of the inside turmoil that often agitates us all, pouring forth in daring brushstrokes, both desperate and tender.

The dynamism of the above painting is striking, and as one friend reflected, in this instance, makes the viewer seem static.

http://joanmitchellfoundation.org/work

 

 

In the above detail, we can see the forces at play in Mitchell’s work: gesture and paint matter used in a broad array of possibilities, impulsion and restraint, dark colors along with translucent ones, suggesting depth and evanescence together.

 

Mitchell uses the white canvas to offset her colors, either as seen through a transparent layer, or in between deeper tones.

 

 

 

 

It seems fit to conclude this short tribute with one major work that brings together these two major painters.

In November 1992, upon learning of Joan Mitchell’s death, Jean-Paul Riopelle was compelled to paint the “Hommage à Rosa Luxembourg”, a vast tryptic of 30 paintings, his tribute to Joan Mitchell.

https://www.mnbaq.org/en/exhibition/jean-paul-riopelle-1213

 

 

This last major work is by Riopelle is located in the corridor that links the old part of the museum with the new pavillon Pierre Lalonde, where the exhibition took place.

This week’s photos are taken in front of Joan Mitchell’s paintings, part of an exhibition that took place last fall at the Musée national des Beaux-Arts du Québec.
This was the first ever exhibition to focus on the 25 years relationship between painters Jean-Paul Riopelle and Joan Mitchell, and how that relationship influenced their respective art.
Main photo: Woman in front of :Joan Mitchell, A Garden for Audrey, Oil on canvas, Dyptich, 1974, Estate of Joan Mitchell
Photo 2: Joan Mitchell, Untitled (detail), Oil on canvas, 1961, The Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York
Photo 3: Visitors looking at Jean-Paul Riopelle, “Hommage à Rosa Luxembourg” 1992. Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 155 x 1 424 cm (1st element); 155 x 1 247 cm (2nd element); 155 x 1 368 cm (3rd element), Coll. MNBAQ. Gift of the artist.
All photos: Louise Jalbert

Muses in Museums, Mitchell/Riopelle Exhibition, Part One

Muses in Museums is a series of photographs about the relationship of people with art in museum spaces. In this first part, the paintings are those of Jean-Paul Riopelle.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Paul_Riopelle

 

There is a moment of stillness that I find moving while people are are observing and reflecting in front of a work of art. They are absorbed in contemplation and time seems to stop.

But time doesn’t stop and I have to act very quickly before the person moves on. I find it very playful to catch a visual composition that happens for a few seconds only.

Sometimes a color combination can convey the relationship between the people and the artwork they are looking at.

 

 

 

 

 

It can also be a contrast: here the flat, dark shapes of the heads and coats frame and accentuate the rythm and texture of the painting.

 

 

 

 

 

And sometimes, the figure just seems to become a live part of the art.

 

 

 

 

 

This week’s photos were taken during an exhibition that took place in the fall of 2017, at the Musée national des Beaux-Arts du Québec.  
This was the first ever exhibition to focus on the 25 years relationship between painters Jean-Paul Riopelle and Joan Mitchell, and how that relationship influenced their respective art.
https://www.mnbaq.org/en/exhibition/mitchell-riopelle-1252
https://www.gallery.ca/collection/artist/jean-paul-riopelle

Tailor Made

Last Sunday, I went to visit a young friend’s exhibition, held at the Maison de la culture Villebon in nearby Beloeil. Nathalie Vanderveken and I met while being involved in an emerging artists’ association, Agrégat, a few years ago.

At the time, she was a student in visual arts. She has since completed her studies brilliantly, developing an interest in the representation of garments and, through apprenticeships in printmaking, a love of paper.

The exhibit is called “Tailor-made” because the artist takes her inspiration from the dress patterns that are used to make clothes.
But that’s only the beginning…

First, she unfolds the patterns and looks at them. The fine paper printed with marks, layouts of dotted lines, arrows and instructions, are intended as a blueprint to make a piece of clothing. What Nathalie sees in them is a world of visual possibilities.

The artist uses them as a starting ground to make clothes-like sculptures, deconstructing the volumes and reassembling them in forms that have little to do with their anticipated use. We are reminded of garments and of the bodies they are meant to dress. Using a mixture of materials, mostly paper that is sometimes solidified with a Japanese paste called Konnyaku, she brings a contrast of structure and movement, of rigor and some degree of softness that makes the art evocative and yet unsettling.

This tailor-made body of work is far from responding to the constraints of a design. Rather, the artist explores with it the freedom to work without compass.
What I find stimulating here is the dynamic offer to our perception. These drawings and sculptures by Nathalie Vanderveken are challenging our minds to a fragmentation and redefinition of the way we look at form.

I find that quite inventive and liberating.

Nathalie Vanderveken, “Tricolor”, Polyurethane foam, artificial leather, Kraft paper, corrugated cardboard, felt marker, pencil and woodstick.

Spaces

How do you convey space in an image?

That could be a whole book in itself, and a lifelong quest for a painter. English artist David Hockney, now in his early 80s, has done several bodies of work and written abundantly about that idea.
http://www.davidhockney.co

I went to visit his retrospective, retracing some 60 years of his work, at the George Pompidou Center in Paris. l enjoy Hockney’s pragmatic, yet whimsical attitude about art, and his amazing skills as an artist.

Many of the paintings on display were of a large scale, and in this vast, industrial architecture, they hold their ground with aplomb. His pictures are carefully organized, the colors are bold, almost harsh at times: together they make a strong statement. Wit and self-assertiveness seem to permeate them.

There was a big crowd, and people tended to cluster in front of the pictures.That made for interesting group compositions, as the scale of the people and spaces depicted in the paintings were often close to reality. Their being close to or removed from the art also indicates a sense of scale. Even the colors they wear can accent and coordinate with the artwork.

I played with the idea of composing an image that stemmed from the painting, extending outside with the visitors and space of the room where it is hanged.

In the photo above, the dark and light shapes of the visitors’s clothes integrate perfectly with those of the painting. Even the figure on the left becomes part of it. It’s amusing to wonder who is looking at whom…with his usual sense of humor, I am sure Hockney thought about this. 

There are several spaces represented here: That of the museum itself, where the visitors stand, the flat space of the canvas, the pictured living room in the painting, with the people, cat and objects, then the space beyond the window, where the light comes from; and finally, the space in the small picture on the upper left. You can play a lot with the concept of space in a picture.

Since I take the pictures very quickly, sometimes there is not time to get closer, so I have to zoom. That brings a pixelization of the image that has a very painterly effect, as in the picture above. The artwork and the visitors are unified into a similar pattern, which makes the face of the woman facing us appear to be part of the painting behind her, especially since she is framed by a rectangle just as the standing figure in profile. Thus, the space between her and the painting is dissolved. They become another image.

I bet David Hockney would find the idea interesting.

 

Paintings by David Hockney: “Portrait of an Artist ( Pool with two figures)” 1972, acrylic on canvas, “Mr. and Mrs Clark and Percy”, 1970, acrylic on canvas, American Collectors ( Fred and Marcia Weisman, 1968, acrylic on canvas.
Louise Jalbert, photos taken at David Hockney’s retrospective, Centre George Pompidou, September 2017.

Muses in Museums

I am in Paris now, back in the city where I lived and studied in my twenties. It was in this city that I became a painter. This is where I developed my knowledge of art, and started to shape my artistic vision. 

Part of that evolution happened in museums, while visiting exhibitions and doing color studies in those often grand spaces.

I have grown a deep affection for the quietness and serenity of museums, whether they are small and regional or palaces such as the Louvre. Although I will visit important exhibitions that are of interest, I prefer permanent exhibitions that allow the visitor to wander and ponder at ease.

       Such a place is the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. A place of serene contemplation is exactly what Monet had intended for his Nymphéas, his last and hugely impressive body of work, all done before, during and after World War I. ( http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/en/article/claude-monets-water-lilies ).

Two oval rooms display the huge panels that surround you as if in nature, where you enter after a small entrance helps you transition from the hustle and bustle of the city. I love this contrast. 

     

 

I have started to look at people in museums as much as the art that is displayed. I find there is a visual interest in the way their often dark shapes, opposed to the lit and bright art, seem to become one. This becomes another composition by itself.

 

 

When in museums, people become quiet and contemplative. They look, ponder, interrogate the art in front of them as if in silent conversation. What fascinates me is how they become absorbed in observation, and how they seem to merge into the art.

The setting, the ambiance, the pose and sheer coincidence bring a unique opportunity to photograph a fleeting moment, a painting come to life. A few seconds of magic before the spell is broken.

What fascinates me is the combination of color and space, light and dark, how the figures of the visitors become visually connected to the art they are looking at, and how their attitude tells of their inward reflection.This becomes another composition by itself.

Art, at least certainly mine, is often about this: to catch a moment of beauty and make it visible. Thus, I have found muses in museums.

Claude Monet, The Water Lilies: Clear Morning with Willows, The Clouds, Tree Reflections, Morning, 1890-1926, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, France,
Louise Jalbert, Photos prises au musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, septembre 2017