Selected works 1985-2015
In the 1980s, a time of renewed interest in figurative art, Marc Garneau set out to develop his own visual language—part figurative, part abstract—rooted in the painting of Québec’s Automatiste movement and American Abstract Expressionism. Imbued with the atmosphere of Garneau’s youth in Thetford Mines, other works have a strongly mineral character. Several paintings recall the ambiance of the town’s slag heaps at sunset, with their deep pink and purple hues. Again and again, correspondences link an underground world with one that exists above. The palette is subterranean, while light plays off the surfaces of precious metals.
Born in Thetford Mines, Garneau studied Visual Arts at Concordia (B.A., 1979 ; M.F.A, 1984). He has received grants from the Canada Council and the Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec. In 1997, he was awarded first prize at the Biennale du dessin, de l’estampe et du papier-matière du Québec. Over the past thirty years, Garneau has had more than fifty solo exhibitions both nationally and in Europe.
Garneau’s work is represented in the collections of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Musée d’art de Joliette, the Musée d’art de Saint-Laurent, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Banque d’œuvres d’art du Québec. Sought out by corporate collectors, it is also included in many private collections in North America and Europe.
Garneau’s art is grounded in his immediate environment, its rural and urban contexts influencing his work in ever new ways. Objects found in these spaces and tools he has used or kept for a long time transmit the affective and emotional charge of memories and significant moments in his life.
The artist’s exposure to rural realities has inspired work that employs the element of fire: wood is treated, burned, and gouged to reveal its layers, probed and analyzed to the point of exhausting all possibilities.
Garneau is interested in objects in their own right, as carriers of hidden meanings. He works closely with their very substance, whether in his “burnt woods,” in the papers he collects and later manipulates in his graphic constructions, or in the works he tears apart and reapplies in the form of canvas or paper fragments to new paintings, like the pieces of a puzzle, a life to be rebuilt.
Garneau’s paintings present themselves as sites of experimentation, composed of various coloured surfaces, fragments of past paintings, pieces of burnt wood, and found objects that have been incised, gouged, or layered. Setting aside the painter’s brush for the tools of the carpenter (a trade he has practiced) and the smith, as well as chisels, burins, and other items that carve and incise, Garneau explores not only the technical possibilities offered by these appropriations, but also opens the door to the unforeseeable. Each painting develops out of its own tensions and contrasts, within a body of work that comes together as a cohesive, coherent whole.
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