In their words: Conversations with Writing Topography artists — #14 - Rémi Belliveau
Beaverbrook Art GalleryDecember 14, 20150 Comments
Over the next several weeks, we will be posting interviews with artists currently featured in the Gallery’s Writing Topography exhibition. These interviews were conducted by Rebecca Goodine, a university student participating in an internship at the Gallery. These interviews present artists talking about themselves and their work in their own words. Interviews were conducted with the artists by email, and have been lightly edited for grammar and flow (occasionally, questions and responses have been removed). At the end of interviews, we’ve included some links to provide a bit more information about a topic or theme from the interview; these links have been chosen by us, and were not provided by the artists.
“ The myth that I'm proposing has no context or story which leaves it open to appropriation, so I hope that viewers take something away from it and invest it in their own personal mythology.”
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic practice.
I'm an Acadian artist interested in the mechanisms of myth and myth making explored through large-scale screen-printing processes. I have a BFA from Université de Moncton and I'm currently Co-director at Galerie Sans Nom in Moncton.
How would you describe your work in the exhibition?
Like a lot of my recent work, Transfiguration in Blue and Gold attempts to reconcile parts of the Acadian narrative* with broader notions of myth and mythology. Two fetishized lobsters, one blue, one gold, are elevated to the realm of ennobled mythical beasts, served on a monolithic coastal altar in an imagined ritual.
Can you tell us about the process of creating the work in the exhibition?
This work in particular stems from a photograph of Pokeshaw Island that was taken during a tour of the New Brunswick coast. The composition was prepared in Photoshop and was screen-printed in fragments over a few weeks on a large roll of paper. The blue watercolor and gold leaf was then added and the gold lobster printed a second time over the gold leaf. Engraved plates were then ordered and the gold frame fabricated from molding.
What was the inspiration for this work?
The idea that fine art has only been present within the Acadian narrative since the mid-20th century has brought me to imagine what classical Acadian art might have looked like if it had ever existed. My recent subject matter has drifted toward Acadian mythology because it has no precedent aside from Longfellow's epic poem Evangeline*.
What is it you hope for the viewer to discover or consider through this work?
The sense that something familiar can become divine or that value can be generated through relatively crude means. The myth that I'm proposing has no context or story which leaves it open to appropriation, so I hope that viewers take something away from it and invest it in their own personal mythology.
What do you find most compelling or enjoyable about this particular work?
The scale is what pleases me the most although I'm reluctant to bring attention to it because it can easily overshadow the overall experience of the work.
How does your work connect with broader themes?
This particular work is in dialogue with classical European art history as well as world mythologies.
What are your larger thoughts on the themes of the Writing Topography exhibit, and how it relates to your piece?
Landscape is a theme that interests me because I obsess over classical forms of representation. In the case of Transfiguration in Blue and Gold, the land plays a central role in contextualizing what's happening and giving it meaning.
What drives you to study and express Acadian identity in your art? Through your work, have you ever discovered previously unknown aspects of your own cultural identity?
My central interest in the Acadian identity is its malleability due to the fact that it remains largely undefined. Its territory has no geopolitical borders, its language has no normative form, its ethnicity has no code and its history remains fragmentary. My work has brought me to consider aspects of my identity that I was unaware of as well as generate aspects of my identity that might not have manifested otherwise.
What does ‘creativity’ mean to you?
I don't know if it means anything specific to me, but I value any person's capacity to generate new ideas and offer them in whatever form to the world that they inhabit.
What kinds of things do you find helpful as sources of inspiration?
Books, archives and people.
What advice do you have to give to new and aspiring artists?
Develop discipline. Be ambitious. Welcome failure.
Learn more about...
Originally from Memramcook Valley, Rémi Belliveau is a multi-disciplinary Acadian artist currently living and working in Moncton, New Brunswick. His recent work explores notions of myth and mythology through large-scale photographic screen prints, inspired by classical European painting and religious icons from the Middle Ages. Belliveau’s particular interest for the mechanisms of myth-making have yielded a printing philosophy that seeks to devalue the art object, as a document that remains in a constant state of decomposition. Through this lens, he creates works that attempt to illustrate, disfigure, and invent the great (as well as minor) narratives of his Acadian, Maritime, and world identities, be they historic, literary, folkloric, or popular. Belliveau works as co-director of the artist-run centre Galerie Sans Nom.
About the Exhibition
Writing Topography runs September 26, 2015 through January 10, 2016. The exhibition is organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and made possible with the generous support of the McCain Family, the Harrison McCain Foundation, and the McCain Foundation. Admission is FREE for Beaverbrook Art Gallery members and for children age six and under. More information on memberships and benefits can be found on our website at http://beaverbrookartgallery.org/en/support/membership. Featured artists include: Robert Bean, Gerald Beaulieu, Jennifer Bélanger, Rémi Belliveau, Jordan Bennett, Kay Burns, Amanda Dawn Christie, Richard Davis, Leah Garnett, Pam Hall, Mark Igloliorte, Navarana Igloliorte, Ursula Johnson, Philippa Jones, Stephen Kelly, Eleanor King, Fenn Martin, Michael McCormack, Kim Morgan, Nigel Roe, Sara Roth, Anna Torma, Gerald Vaandering, and Kim Vose Jones.