In the studio, bits of torn and cut-up paper and photographs form a growing pile on the work table. Individual pieces from the pile will be meticulously selected for colour, texture and shape, to be arranged and rearranged, assembled and reassembled, in a quest for the right balance. Brushes and paints sit patiently while the artist finishes her collage-sketches, awaiting their turn on the huge white canvas.

This slow, deliberate, creative process is how Karine Léger builds the foundation of her next work. Nothing is rushed, nothing is forced. She stops only when that precious balance has been achieved. Although the composition is set in her sketchbook, she reserves the right to stray from the concept in deference to the canvas. The unhurried pace suits her and she respects it.

Landscapes emerge from the destruction. Superimposed layers of images and transparent acrylics give birth to geometric shapes suggestive of things found in the natural world. Abstract, yet deeply evocative, her spare compositions leave room for the viewer’s interpretation.

Recently, this process has produced two magnificent series of paintings: Mountain Names and The Shape of the Sky.

Wide-open spaces and vast expanses of snow are the source of her inspiration. Karine has spent time in the Far North among the Inuit, in a place where time stands still and silence reigns supreme. Those Northern landscapes have left their indelible mark. There she found contentment.

Balance is what she seeks in every aspect of her life. Indeed, her creative process is intimately tied to her personality. Her palette indicates an artist in pause, enjoying the calm, avoiding environments that blare and colours that shriek. It is also her link to nature, and to human nature; it is her love of her creations, her love of self. For Karine Léger, there is meditation in the way she applies layer upon layer of texture, working to the strains of soft music, or in silence.

Art has always been part of Karine’s life. As a child, she spent hours alone, drawing. She studied Fine Arts in CEGEP, eventually focusing on Graphic Arts, which allowed her to alternate between work, art, and private classes. In 2000, painting slowly crept back into her life and art, and her canvases began to be exhibited in a growing number of group and solo shows. In 2012, her work caught the attention of Olivier Gagnon of Galerie MX, who took her under his wing. Her career soon took flight, eliciting interest in the international market, and in 2015, she will be represented by a gallery in Boston.

An even greater maturity informs her newest series, which can be seen as something of a sequel to The Shape of the Sky. Karine continues to explore, provoke encounters and work in group studios with other artists, finding them a rich source for the conversation, questioning and fragments of answers that feed her creations and her quest for balance. In 2015, Karine Léger will be part of a duo show with sculptor Patricia Barrowman, May 15 to June 7, at Galerie MX in Montreal.

Karine Léger, Art in the balance

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