Thursday, August 31, 2017

Standing on a Clue

14 x 11", acrylic on gessoed mounted hardboard ( cradle board)
painting #248, 2017 


During the spring of 2016, my wife and I spent two weeks in Europe visiting Belgium, the Netherlands and Oslo Norway. We flew to Brussels where we spent our first 3 days. We were a bit apprehensive about visiting the city just six weeks after the terrorist bombings. Some sections of the airport were still closed off. Things got off to a rocky start. Just four hours after our arrival, my backpack was stolen in the locked luggage room of the lobby of the hotel/ hostel where we were staying . The whole incident was caught on video by the hotel security camera. It was an outside job. The only things I did not lose was wallet, camera, passport and my day itinerary. After filing a police report we had to come to terms with what had happened and move on. We would have to rely on the kindness of others in order to move forward. I have to say the the police officers we met had a lot of empathy and were very sympathetic and kind to us. We spent a whole day just buying the essentials which included a backpack, clothing, battery charger, reprinting documents etc.... We had purchased bus tour tickets in order to visit the Hergé Museum which is located in Louvain-la-Neuve, 32 km from Brussels. The evening before our day trip we received and e-mail from the agency that they were going to have to cancel the trip since we were the only two who had made reservations. To compensate, the agency offered us a complimentary tour of a Belgium chocolate factory. Apart from those incidents, it was an AMAZING trip. We got to visit 32 museums and countless attractions and monuments. 

We did get to visit the Belgian Centre of Comic Strip Art in Brussels. The museum is housed in a beautiful 1905 Art Nouveau building that was designed by architect Victor Horta. It originally served as a textile department store. The building was restored and re-opened as a museum in 1989. It mainly pays homage to Belgian, but also Flemish and French comic strip artists such as Hergé (Tintin), Jije (Spirou), Edgar D. Jacob (Blake & Mortimer), André Franquin (Spirou), Morris (Lucky Luke), Jean Roba (Boule & Bill) and Peyo (The Smurfs). 



In my composition, the Tintin figuring was purchased at the Tintin Store in Brussels. Tintin is a young reporter and adventurer, but is often portrayed playing detective, solving crimes and mysteries. Under the magnifying glass, a finger print appears on the Clue board game.

Le Musée de la Civilisation is Québec City is currently hosting an Hergé exhibition which I am planning to visit next month. The installation closes on October 22, 2017.

Earlier this year I was invited by Galerie de Bellefeuille in Montreal to submit some artwork for a Photorealism group exhibition. I am delighted to announced that two paintings were selected for this prestigious show that will run from September 30 - October 10, 2017. 

Participating artists: 
-Jason DeGraaf
-Shaun Downey
-Barbara Pratt
-Steve Smulka
-Glen Semple
-Stephen Fox
-Francine Van Hove
-Paula Urzica
-Andrew Valko
-Yigal Ozeri
-Gordon Young
-Judy Garfin
-Janet Rickus
-David Ligare
-Juan Pujol
-Jason Walker
-Alvin Richard

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1367 avenue Greene
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2A8
Tel: 514.933.4406
http://debellefeuille.com/

-SOLD

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

French Kisses, an homage to Robert Doisneau

16 x 12", acrylic on gessoed birch panel
painting #247, 2017 


I initially got this large Hershey's Kisses for my wife while picking up a Valentine's Day card at the store. When I got home, I opened the box and marvelled at it like an "Objet de désire". I decided to put it in my prop box for a future painting and ended up getting her a heart box of Russell Stover chocolates instead. 

The title inspired the narrative for this painting. The composition came to me when I uncovered this 1993 Robert Doisneau calendar that had been stored away some 23 years ago. Since my wife Suzanne and I were married on February 14, I arranged the pages so that "Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville"(Kiss at Town Hall), was on the appropriate month. 

Robert Doisneau (1912-1994) was a French photographer who became reknown for his street photography and as a photojournalist. "Baiser de l'Hôtel de ville" first appeared in LIFE magazine on June 12, 1950. The couple kissing in the photo was only made public in 1992 and identified as Françoise Delbart, 20, and Jacques Carteaud, 23, both aspiring actors at the time. The story behind "Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville" is well documented on his Wikipedia page - click HERE


During our six week vacation in Europe this spring, we were fortunate enough to attend "Bistro, de Baudelaire à Picasso", the inaugural artistic exhibition held at La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, France. The exhibit was comprised of about 100 works that included paintings, photography, drawings, literature and cinema. Dating from the 18th century to today, the show explored how artists from various movements were influenced by Café bars. A full wall was dedicated to the amazing photography of Robert Doisneau.




Earlier this year I was invited by Galerie de Bellefeuille in Montreal to submit some artwork for a Photorealism group exhibition. I am delighted to announced that two paintings were selected for this prestigious show that will run from September 30 - October 10, 2017. 

Participating artists: 
-Jason DeGraaf
-Shaun Downey
-Barbara Pratt
-Steve Smulka
-Glen Semple
-Stephen Fox
-Francine Van Hove
-Paula Urzica
-Andrew Valko
-Yigal Ozeri
-Gordon Young
-Judy Garfin
-Janet Rickus
-David Ligare
-Juan Pujol
-Jason Walker
-Alvin Richard

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1367 avenue Greene
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2A8
Tel: 514.933.4406
http://debellefeuille.com/

-SOLD


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bonne Maman

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 7 x 5''
painting #246, 2017

This small painting was a hospitality gift for my friend Françoise and her husband Michel who generously offered to pick us up at the airport in Lyon, France and welcomed us into their home for a two night stay in Annonay. On May 8, my wife Suzanne and I would embarked on the ''Puy Way" (GR 65) part of the greater network of trails of the Camino leading to Santiago the Compostella. The moderately difficult hiking trek from Puy-en-Velay to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France is 720 km in length, with an elevation reaching 1300m in the Aubrac region of the Massif Central. The whole journey should have taken us about 26-28 days to complete. Françoise did join us for the first day and hiked with us until noon before we said our goodbyes. 

Everything was going well until day 8, then Suzanne started to have pain in her left knee. By the end of day 9, the pain would turn into an injury. I continued solo for an additional day, while Suzanne took a shuttle bus in order to rejoin me in Figeac. After 3 days of rest, she saw very little improvement. So with heavy hearts, we decided to leave the trail and remain in Europe for another month as tourists. Not having to carry an 18 lbs backpack or tackling mountainous terrain permitted her to slowly recover. It would take 18 days for her to walk without a limp. I was able to hike 270 km during our 10 days on the GR-65. With this said, I feel I have unfinished business. I will be returning to Figeac by myself to complete the Puy Way hiking trek to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port next year.

After visiting the tourist information center in Figeac, a very kind lady helped us map out a new itinerary. We travelled by bus or train visiting Cahors, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Bayonne and St-Jean-de-Luz in France. We then crossed the Spanish border and made our way to San Sebastian and Bilbao. From there we boarded a plane to Barcelona where we stayed for 3 days, then flew to Rome for an additional 3 days before returning home. We swam in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, visited 21 museums plus countless historical landmarks and churches. Some of the museums included the following: 

  • Musée des Augustins and the Bemberg Foundation in Toulouse
  • inaugural art exhibition held at La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux 
  • the jaw-dropping Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao 
  • Fine Art Museums of Bordeaux and Bilbao 
  • Picasso Museum and the Antonio Gaudi masterful architecture in Barcelona 
  • Vatican Museums with the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City 
  • Galleria Nazionale d'arte Moderna in Rome 
  • but my hands down favourite was the Museu Europeu d'art Modern in Barcelone, dedicated to figurative contemporary realism 

The whole trip was a wonderful whirlwind. 

Bonne Maman means "Good Mother" in English. Symbolically, the image is in memory of my mother Emma, and the painting will remain in the country of her ancestors. Since her passing in 2006, during our travels, we often see her name or it will just come up in casual conversation with others, a reminder that she is watching over us. This trip was no exception. This always brings me comfort and a validation that I should live out my dreams.

-private collection France