April 21 — May 18, 2012

Olivier Masmonteil



Opening : Saturday April 21, 2012, at 5pm

Guest curator : William Huffman

Landscape continues to function as one of the most enduring and compelling genre in the field of creative expression. Straddling multiple media and subject to a breadth of interpretation, landscape remains firmly embedded in the lexicon of visual art and the vocabulary of contemporary audiences. This exhibition is entitled Place and derives its language, in part, from that solidity of tradition. However, the resonance of Place is predicated on an ambiguity of memory, the unreliable nature of recognition and an often-irrational influence of nostalgia.

The exhibition hinges on large-format canvases by Olivier Masmonteil – a prolific painter, responsible for thousands of evocative and moody landscape works inspired by his extensive travels. As a cursory description of his practice, it’s about fantasy and the hybrid – the work has been described as possessing a distinct duality of substance and form, subject and object, content and container. Structurally, Masmonteil builds compositions with a surprisingly basic but effective formula, combining a foreground of one location with the background from another.

In this way, he develops new and believable locations by fusing perhaps the deserts in Algiers with the skies of Brittany or cloud formations from Marseille with an African seashore. My interest in this work emerges from the notion that Masmonteil is creating a fictional sense of belonging or nostalgia by creating places that are, on the one hand recognizable, with the viewer extracting familiarity from the colours, forms or geography, while on the other hand, we remain unable to place the location fully. For the exhibition I’ve selected works that resonate with a likeness of Northern Ontario – images that are intended to be read initially as local vistas, but in reality, these alien terrains are constructed from components that exist great distances away.

Masmonteil’s work is certainly layered with a unique poetics of place and in an effort to underscore this, well known Sudburian literary personality Normand Renaud has provided a text that responds to the paintings. Only a handful of lines in length, this narrative is inspired and informed by Masmonteil’s explorations of place, non-place and nostalgia for place. Like the work itself, Renaud’s textual interpretation is steeped in a duality – his voice speaks specifically to the work, while at the same time, emphasizing its universality.

It is deliberate that we should bring together a local writer with this foreign painter – a symbolic relationship between home and away, familiar or alien, know versus unknown, and a mechanism that ultimately underscores the contradictions and dichotomies that ground this exhibition.

William Huffman, commissaire


Our partners for this exhibition are Dunkan Hourdequin, Le Salon du livre du Grand Sudbury, and CanSign Industries.

Olivier Masmonteil

Olivier Masmonteil (born September 23, 1973, [Romilly-sur-Seine, France]) is a French artist. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux from 1996 to 1999. As a painter, Olivier Masmonteil dedicates his work exclusively to landscapes. While offering a variety of treatment, the paintings of Olivier Masmonteil assume a thematic unity which the landscape is both the substance and form, subject and object, the content and container. Globetrotter artist, he has started a second world tour in Asia (India, Thailand, Vietnam) and South America (Chile, Brazil).

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