Original title: Patrick Pépin
Inspiration from afar
For the past three years, Patrick Pépin — a man who has made travel a lifestyle — has had to resign himself to staying in one place as he prepares for a solo exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-St-Paul opening November 23.
Entitled Sans limites, the event will feature large-scale works taken from his Playing Cards collection. “Seeing one’s work in a museum before one’s death, alongside those of artists like Picasso or Warhol, is truly extraordinary! It is also a form of recognition from my peers, which makes me very proud.”
In the past, Pépin would travel outside the country for approximately three months a year, work in his studio for six months, painting a collection that emerged from his travels, then leave home for foreign shores once again, looking for new inspiration. He has created numerous collections this way.
Composed of successive layers of vivid colours, the India collection evokes a patchwork of multicoloured traditional saris and the effervescence of the country’s overpopulated cities. Another collection, called Whiteworks, features the colour white. Tranquillity reigns, like the feeling one has when faced with the infinite desert. In Barcelona, he even rented a studio so he could immerse himself in the city’s marvellous architecture and contemplate the genius of Gaudi and his crowning masterpiece: the Sagrada Familia.
Working tirelessly in over 30 countries, Pépin has created numerous major works prized by collectors. One of his colossal works is on permanent display at the Metro Toronto Convention Center. However, nothing in the artist’s Lac Mégantic childhood suggested a future of exploration and international success. His father would go off and work as a lumberjack during the long winter months. At a time when divorce was rare, he was raised only by his mother, who was in poor health. Conscious of the poverty around him, Pépin was an anxious child.
When asked what he would say to his younger self, the artist confessed: “You’re lucky and you don’t even know it—don’t worry so much, buddy!” He bursts out laughing, thinking of all the years that his passion and the work he loves have been able to support his nomadic lifestyle, his freedom, and his passions.
At first glance, some of Pépin’s collections recall the masterpieces of Riopelle, while others hint at the action painting of Pollock. One obvious influence, however, is Augustin Lesage, a major French painter in the Art Brut (Outsider Art) movement. Constantly evolving and seeking new ways of doing things, Pépin integrates bits of photographs of his own paintings into his collection, Playing Cards. He photographs and prints his work, cuts them up and blends them on canvas, creating a collage of controlled chaos.
In Canada, Patrick Pépin is represented by Galerie Beauchamp and by the Whistler Contemporary Gallery, formerly known as the Whistler Village Art Gallery, in British Columbia.