Richard Deschênes lives and works in Montréal. After obtaining a BA in Visual Arts (1985, Concordia), he studied at the Pratt Graphics Center in New York (1985-1986). Recipient of several grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Richard Deschênes works mainly in painting and drawing. He has exhibited in Canada, Mexico, China, Spain, Austria, the United-States, France and Japan. His latest solo exhibitions include Expression (Saint-Hyacinthe, 2012), Optica and Vu Photo (Montréal and Québec, 2013). His artworks are included in the collection of Prêt d’œuvres d’art du Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and Canada Council Art Bank, as well as in several corporate and private collections.
If you watch a painter at work, you seem to be watching a process in which various bodies (that of the painter, his tools, the pigments, and the canvas) move in some fundamentally obscure way that “results” in a painting. […] To account for what one actually sees, any analysis of a gesture has to be an analysis of meaning. Its methods must be those of decoding, a dismantling of the gesture into the elements of its meaning.
What exactly is there for us to see in Richard Deschênes’s latest exhibition? What are we looking at? A black and matt surface is worked with a white organic pattern, which is repeated throughout the works. This repetition, the play with scales and certain inscriptions let us believe that we are in front of a very close-up of a reproduced image. But how?—Between drawing and paintings, the artworks of Les Atomistes cannot be easily deciphered. A photograph taken from a scientific paper is at the base of this corpus. The photograph represents a cotton that has become self-cleaning due to the injection of silver nanoparticles into its fibers. If in the work of Richard Deschênes there is always a particular attention brought to the perception’s concept and mechanisms, here, the image making process also fleshes out the artist’s proposition by playing skillfully on the dialectical principle of the « subject » and « object » represented. Scientists use constructed and artificial images to re-transcribe their data and make their research visible. Their images are seductive but our understanding remains partial. The artist’s pictorial propositions work in the same way; they combine in their production a set of complex processes that our perception alone can’t manage to apprehend. The molecule, photographed, enlarged and reworked, becomes the screen to be printed. Point by point, the artist maps the original image and transfers it on to a tracing paper, which he then smears with a thin layer of white pastel. The matrix thus created will then be patiently reproduced, transcribed on the surface of the painting first primed with black gesso.—This slow and laborious method gives the works an impersonal aspect. Yet the artist’s hand is present everywhere, though in a contradictory way. The hand disappears in the efficiency of gestural mechanics. With Les Atomistes, Richard Deschênes creates enigmatic images proposing a reflection on time, duration and sublimation of the banal, while also giving his works a poetic dimension.
La Galerie B-312 remercie ses membres et donateurs, le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, le Conseil des arts de Montréal, le Conseil des arts du Canada et la Ville de Montréal. L’artiste tient à remercier le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec ainsi que Catherine Bodmer.