C h a n t a l P. D u r o c h e r

“PLEASE TOUCH! I want my paintings to be touched.” That's how Chantal P. Durocher begins her Artist's Statement. This relates to a very distinctive aspect of her works: the tactile dimension. They entice the viewer to touch them and they are specially protected.

Her large format paintings have a lot of texture. She also incorporates elements of nature in her artworks, such as dead leafs, twigs and other recycled materials. These elements are sealed in a thick protective epoxy resin.

This brings us to another important aspect of her artworks, the intention behind them.

She wants to raise awareness about our relationship with the environment and the Buddhist concept of impermanence. Everything is in a state of transformation.

She turns the most worthless thing in the world, a dead leaf, into a focal point of an artwork that we admire. The artist tries to show the forgotten value of the dead leaf, and how we too easily forget the utmost importance of nature for our survival.

She also wants the dead leaves to illustrate the concept of impermanence. It is, for her, a sign of time passing and changes. Similarly, it is a part of the cycle of life, where the dead decomposes and is reorganized into another life form.

Thus, the artist wants to invite viewers to “TOUCH” the reality of their own impermanence.

T h e   A r t i s t

Chantal Poulin-Durocher (b.1959, Ottawa, Canada) grew up in and around Montréal, Québec. Following her visual arts studies, and dissatisfied with the 80's visual arts university program, she decided to take classical art training at the Mission Renaissance Fine Art Institute. While rebelling against the diktat of institutionalized contemporary art and searching for the absolute, she could not help but master drawing and classical painting, thus legitimizing a deconstructionist future. The artist devoted many years to perfecting her skill. Chantal Poulin-Durocher thus reached a summit in her mastery of realist representational art. She continued her development by concentrating on impressionist landscapes and later on expressionist still lifes. She painted in a more and more synthesized fashion and finally shifted from realism to total abstraction in the new millennium.

In 2009, in an attempt to experience a new social and visual environment, Chantal Poulin-Durocher emigrated from Quebec to Costa Rica. There, she has set up her studio in the mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The vibrant tropical colours of Costa Rica infiltrated her rich textural landscapes and abstracts. In November 2009 the Thompson-Landry Gallery of Toronto presented a solo show titled "Transitions" exhibiting the result of this experience. Chantal P. Durocher is currently still painting in Costa Rica and very happy in her new environment.

C o n t e m p o r a r y   F o s s i l s

Chantal Poulin-Durocher's artworks, which she calls ‘Contemporary Fossils', juxtapose nature and civilisation. The artist makes leaves and twigs dance on the canvas, like an autumn wind, with much finesse and sensitivity. Over these elements of nature, Durocher uses a thick coat of clear resin just as nature uses amber to seal its fossil fragments. Diverted from their carboniferous destiny, these elements appear as framed behind glass for posterity. She introduces natural detritus into our aseptic environments, imbuing a simple twig with meaning. These elements highlight the fact that so many people have lost contact with nature. The use of organic material at a time when life has left it, also subsumes the themes of death and temporality, of the ephemeral, of impermanence.

This concept of “Contemporary Fossils”, which implies conservation, contrasts with the artist's theme of impermanence - the impermanence of things, situations, impermanence of life, our own impermanence. This contrast illustrates our denial of impermanence, our useless battle against change, our suffering when we refuse to accept that nothing remains the same forever.

So, in the artist's view, we shouldn't talk about conserving nature, but rather respecting it. Above all, that it's not so much that we are part of nature, but that nature is part of us, we are very fragile, we depend on nature.

Chantal P. Durocher alternates between complete abstraction and a very personal representation of her surroundings. However, thoughout her works, we are always encouraged to touch these textures, these materials, creating a communication between the tactile sense and sight.

This period is witness to a quest for the simple, the bare; for finesse in expression and communication. This search, which is at the heart of her creativity, is the fruit of a long and rich development, over some 20 years, an exceptional process that has brought Chantal Poulin-Durocher from academic realism to contemporary abstraction.

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