Returning - Le Fantome de la Memoire
New Paintings by NAPOLEON BROUSSEAU
November 23, 2012
Napoleon Brousseau’s solo exhibition Returning: Le Fantôme de la Mémoire is at Robert Kananaj Gallery from
November 8 – December 8, 2012. The exhibition in the main space of the gallery includes paintings, drawings and
installations in the vitrines.
Like a recurring dream, Brousseau’s ants have been scampering over the surfaces of Toronto’s buildings for years. A new sighting: above the
gallery’s front windows, a sculptural ants cocoon. The head of
one giant decapitated ant is clenched provocatively in the mandibles of
another, who peeks surreptitiously out of a hole of mangled and bulging
A wall-mounted silver rabbit dashes headlong into the gallery’s front,
camouflaged into a glimmering wall mounted with a lexicographic selection of
drawings from Brousseau’s career, from the meditative to the bizarre, and
steeped in the artist’s inner journeys and fancy stories. Featured in the
vitrines is a deep, blue, and reflective corridor teeming with photographs in
the silhouette of a head. The threads dangle with memories of past art pieces,
capers at work, homey spaces and distant travels, inviting the viewer into a
contemplation of a space made like head-shrine of the exhibition.
Brousseau’s large-scale paintings are described by the artist as “spirit images of living
persons.” Suffused in colour, light and allusion, the paintings reveal layers
of paint applications reworked and revoked in the process of “RGB” painting – a
pixilated up-building of chiaroscuro created by repeated actions of rolling,
grinding and brushing to configure the accreted and flickering presences.
Portraits traditionally portray a subject. At the outset of this series I named my portraits Anybody, Somebody, Everybody first and then went looking for subjects I didn’t know in the process of my painting.
Meditative Rolling, Reckless Grinding, Poetic Brushing.
These paintings are created mainly through a random system of rotary painting. I hand cut the rollers to rotary print a repetitive pattern. This style of working, I call RGB- Roll, Grind, Brush. Repeat, until the subject revealed itself.
In a shamanic-like meditative process I simply keep rolling layers of paint using multiple colors at once until a face or scene emerges. At this point I seal the surface with epoxy. The next stage is searching for details using a grinder which is more random and chaotic.
The roller sets a representational space in a forward and backward motion, the grinding accesses lost areas in a left to right reckless chaotic motion. It is alternatively static then chaotic, a particle then a wave.
The subjects themselves can be elusive shape shifters. Searching for the subject in the painting can take a long time, such as Lady RGB which took over three years to complete.
Le Fantome De La Memoire
The paintings portray apparitions, chimeras, real figments from the imaginal realms; waking dreams, spectre’s, phantasms, nebulous recollections, ghost portraits dancing between dimensions and meanings . In a world of hyper real imagery, they are the world view of people with facial blindness. They are portraits of eidolons- spirit images of living persons.
The titles simply set a mood too begin the search for the subject.
The works are titled with a subtitle that gives you an insight into what motivated the meditative rolling search.