Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Marc Séguin's Nordic Landscapes at Galerie Jean-Claude Bergeron in Ottawa

Nordic Landscapes, the exhibition of new work by Marc Séguin in Ottawa, came as a bit of shock. I knew that Séguin had built his career on a seemingly unrelenting series of dark and brutal images that employed provocative use of serial killers, terrorists, crash sites and the like, so I steeled myself for what I was about to see and still found myself completely unprepared. In a sequence of ten new oil paintings, the artist has rather straightforwardly rendered pleasantly picturesque views of northern Quebec and Labrador. These paintings were inspired by Séguin’s hunting and fishing trips in the area, as well as by his recent experience shooting a feature film there. Previously, Séguin has said that he felt it was his duty to pursue in paint what deranged or disturbed him. These easily enjoyable works indicate perhaps that the trips up north have helped to mellow him out.

Marc Séguin, Paysage nordique No. 6, 2014, oil on canvas

In the same way that I suspect there is a calculated agenda behind Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s seemingly benign arctic tours, I can’t but think that Séguin is playing the wolf in sheep’s clothing with these new paintings. In conjunction with this exhibition, his Ottawa gallerist Jean-Claude Bergeron has also organized a small retrospective in Gatineau at the Galerie Montcalm that gathers together a range of Séguin's works from 1996 to 2014, the majority of which are on loan from collectors in the region. The proximity of both exhibitions affords visitors the opportunity to get caught up with Séguin’s work and discern a continuity in his aesthetic strategies that suggests there is a darker side to his Nordic Landscapes.

The complete text of my review of the exhibitions was published here on the September 23rd Akimblog.

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