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Arts

Éric Simon at Graff

Posted by Denis / May 28, 2007

20070528_Éric Simon GRAFF.jpg
First thing you think of when you see Éric Simon's current body of work is: this dude can paint.

Pop into Graff and check out his Portrait séquentiel: Arwa series (named after the student who posed for the portrait - no S - it's all one piece) and see for yourelf - the technical brilliance is obvious in the sixteen-part portrait revolving (literally!) around a head. But with Simon, it isn't all about technical perfection.

As he explained to me, his original intent was to "...make it crude..." and ape the attempts seen in early computer graphics attempts to create realistic-looking people.

That Simon would be influenced by computer imaging isn't surprising once you look at his work. The series' of sixteen(s) give the sense of a camera sweeping around a subject, scanning them in clicking frames in order to replicate them on a computer - or one of those silly Mission Impossible masks. The whole subject of technology replicating people and vice versa was one we discussed at length and interests him greatly. Funny that he paints. Or maybe not.

He's worked so long on these series of portraits (starting with himself at the 2001 Symposium de nouvelle peinture in Baie-Saint-Paul) that technology has blown by what painting used to do better, and has now supplanted the teacher as the master of visual trickery. The whole thing has gone topsy-turvy and now it's "... low-tech painting trying to imitate high- tech computer... ...Maybe that's why I want to paint. Chasing virtual reality like a dog chasing cars. "

As for why sixteen? "Sixteen just makes sense," Simon said. "Four isn't enough to get a good sense of the person, their face, eight isn't enough and twenty or twenty-four just seems too much, too big."

It might seem like a strange declaration, but when you're there, standing in front of the work, it really does just make sense. The eye easily rolls around the room in a perfect rhythm. Stop to stare at any one individual painting and you'll be rivited by the detail and smooth interplay of seamless colors, but soon its loniless is obvious. In other words, there's a reason you can't buy just one part - it'd be like amputating a limb - it just doesn't work one on one. And that's actually it's greatest strength, that it simply must be exactly what it is, in number, style and finish.

Why paint his students (he's a teacher at John Abbott)? Because they were there! "I thought they might as well be of some use to me!" Simon joked. Indeed, when the material is at hand, why search further than necessary?

But if you can get out to Joliette, you might want to search further, because there you'll see the series' accompanying Graff's 'Arwa' - all four of them lined up on one wall at the Musée de Joliette!

One is interesting enough, four's just gotta be amazing!

On at Graff, 963 rue Rachel est, until June 30th.

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