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Martin Bourdeau

Works in the exhibition

Division Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition by Martin Bourdeau, one of Quebec’s leading contemporary painters. The show runs October 24 to November 22, 2014, with an opening reception on Friday, October 24, from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.

In this exhibition Martin Bourdeau continues his investigation into painting with works in the form of painted catalogues.  Evoking fictional exhibitions, these artworks blur the line between the artist’s paintings and their reproduction, between an exhibition and its documentation. 

In the four catalogues on view, the artist uses his well-honed vocabulary of minimalist forms, addressing the dilemma of artistic stagnation by making it the explicit subject of his work. Each series not only channels the frustration of reaching a creative impasse, but harnesses that inertia as a driving inventive force.

Catalogue No. 1 (Léthargie) features 22 canvases, each painted with squares and rectangles in a shade of purple called ‘’Léthargie’’.  The artist has chosen the colour from a commercial paint company’s many offerings and its name signifies for Bourdeau a state of stagnation. The artistic stalemate in question, a series of images the artist laboured on for a year but was unable to resolve, lies hidden beneath the purple paint.

In the series Catalogue No. 2, paintings of Bourdeau’s empty studio walls, scarred by paint daubs and nails, appear on each catalogue page. Depending how we interpret them, the blank spaces suggest either the painter’s version of writer’s block or the exciting freedom of beginning anew.

Catalogue No. 3 (Insomnie) returns to a theme previously explored by Bourdeau - that of nightscapes viewed through a window screen. One imagines the wakeful artist staring out at the darkness, unable to sleep, the obscured landscape a metaphor for his somnambulant state.

In Catalogue No. 4 (Night Blinks) the red numerals of a digital clock mark the passage of a sleepless night. By the same token, an artist’s insomnia implies creative unrest, even in the wee hours of night.

Since graduating with a B.A. from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 1994, Martin Bourdeau has had solo exhibitions at Galerie Roger Bellemare and Galerie Division in Montreal, Arsenal Toronto, and Kulturwerk T66, in Freiburg, and has been featured in group shows in Canada and abroad. Bourdeau's work is represented in many collections, including the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, TD Canada Trust, the Canada Art Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada, Hydro-Québec and Loto-Québec. Reviews have appeared in Canadian Art, Border Crossings, the Globe and Mail, La Presse, Le Devoir and the Gazette, and he was the subject of a monograph by curator Roald Nasgaard, who also included Bourdeau in his seminal work, Abstract Painting in Canada.

For more information on the artist