I studied visual arts in Quebec City in the late 1960s and early 1970s, around the time when the School of Fine Arts became the Faculty of Visual Arts at Université Laval. After my studies, I taught art at the high school level for a brief period. Since I felt no affinity for teaching in that setting and because I craved a life of pure art, I undertook studies in the graphic arts. This allowed me to support my family while working in a field closer to my artistic reality, that is, in graphic arts, illustration and communications. Yet my need to paint never left me, and as we cannot escape our true nature, I decided in spring 2007 to follow my true path—painting.
Since then, I have ardently and passionately dedicated myself to painting and drawing. I have given classes, workshops and seminars. I also regularly exhibit my works and spearhead educational artistic projects for schools in Nunavik.
1969–73: Fine arts – visual arts at Université Laval (Quebec City)
1974–75: Teaching: high school level art (Sherbrooke)
1976: Further studies in graphic design (Collège de Sherbrooke)
1978: Graphic designer and illustrator for an advertising agency, Sherbrooke
1980: Creation of first graphic design firm (Sherbrooke)
Pierre Morin, President (communications, graphic design, illustration)
1994: Creation of a second graphic design firm (Montreal)
Pierre Morin, President (communications and marketing, graphic design, illustration, new media)
2007: Launch of painting workshop in Lachine
2009: Launch of painting workshop in Varennes
2007 to present: Professional practice in painting as well as private and group painting classes
2012–2016: Vice-President, Institute of Figurative Arts – IFA
2012 to present: Member of the Varennes Cultural Committee
2016 to present: President, Institute of Figurative Arts – IFA
I’m an artist in the fine arts tradition, and my practice focuses on figurative art.
I see painting as an action arising from the relationship between the artist and his work of art. That relationship must meet all the conditions, requirements and mastery necessary for the best possible execution of each of my works.
In my paintings, the subject does not make the work—rather, it is but a pretext. The subject becomes the container for the elements of a structure that has been studied; it is a balanced construction that unconditionally obeys the great rules of composition. I hold composition as a core attribute of the work’s logic (its spirit) and colour as a core attribute of emotion (its soul). Colour is affected by its own ability to generate light, sensation and harmony, while drawing gives form to both (its body). That means the drawing must always be done with care, as it constitutes the “binding” attribute, that which joins and articulates.
These four aspects are supported by technical mastery that is continuously evolving. Every work must present an absolute plastic consistency, which is a sign of control and technical maturity. The creativity in my works of art is not expressed through eccentric actions or components, but through my ability to find solutions that optimally harmonize the eight elements I consider critical to the success of a work of art. Achieving this harmonization generates the eighth element so prized by artists: the style and personality that make the artist’s work recognizable, even without his signature.
“FIRST AND FOREMOST, MY APPROACH TO PAINTING IS INTENDED TO BEAR WITNESS TO THE BEAUTY OF NATURE AND TO THE PEACE AND HARMONY WE FIND THERE. ARMED WITH MODESTY AND RESPECT, I MASTERFULLY COMBINE REALISM WITH IMPRESSIONISM, AND ALL SHADES IN BETWEEN.”
For as long as I can remember, I have always felt intense pleasure when watching, observing, feeling and, finally, truly seeing what light reveals—a kind of transcendence over the act of “looking.” The experience is both exhilarating and elevating. All understanding is processed through the eyes, then amplified as it transforms and echoes within the soul. And this is the point where the pleasures of seeing intersect with the pleasures of painting. This way of relating to what lies around me is the very basis of my artistic process in figurative art. Although I know how well seeded this garden has been over the centuries and into today, and although I am may find myself treading the same steps as some in the Group of Seven, figurative painting in the fine arts tradition is nonetheless my favourite area of endeavour. I describe myself as realist–impressionist painter, which is to say that I straddle the divide of both techniques at once. Quite simply, I am neither one nor the other. However, the end result does not systematically present both styles in equal proportion.
Light is another element that informs the fundamentals of my approach: intense sensations arise in me when exploring the exact role of light in relation to each subject. There’s nothing new about saying that light is of vital importance in the visual arts. Light remains the subtle life flowing through a work of art, like the energy in our body. The drawing, subject, composition, rhythm, colours—all are conjugated by light. When Henry Miller discovered the role that light played in his watercolours, he famously uttered that “to paint is to love again.” Miller had indeed grasped the spiritual function of light in painting.
On my own path, nature in its wildest, most intact and most Canadian form has certainly been my most significant source of inspiration. This is no coincidence, as nature has been a salvation to me: whereas others lose themselves in the forest, it’s where I find myself. Even so, I have never limited myself to landscapes. Nature can be found in cities, in an apple, in flowers, in a body... It’s everywhere, even in dreams, and the surrealists delved deeply into the nature of things from this perspective. It’s of vital importance to me that what speaks to me is not lost and that I am able to translate that inspiration to the act of painting. In fact, I cannot be captive to a style that depends on a trend, repeated subjects, opportunistic recipes, materials or texture, or any other such limiting particularities. I need the freedom to paint the nature of all things without limitation: if a nail catches my fancy, it will doubtless become a drawing or painting.
I continue to pursue this magic that only painting is able to create in the visual world. In my view, a work of art is truly inhabited when we feel the work itself peering back at us.
Pierre Morin - All rights reserved.
This text is the intellectual property of Pierre Morin. Any use or dissemination of this text, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the author’s permission.
Written in September 2007
Updated in January 2018