DOMINIC COUTURIER

Everything begins with a gesture. And each painting involves a series of gestures. Collectively these represent the artist's consciousness in space, at a moment in time.  Dominic Couturier's recent multimedia paintings are a dense impasto, works that involves motions, collages, drippings, and invention. His resource is the availability of things. The artist scours reality to invent a dream. That always involves a love of the event. The event or happening could be humorous, or it could be serious. It always involves a series of stages. This can occur in musical collaborations, performance, paintings, or whatever the event in life may be. There is a full range of human emotions that accompany the creation of a work of art, from reflection, to action, to precise placement and compositional experimentation. One could draw allusions with Jackson Pollock, but this is another era, one where the abstract in one reference among many, and where the digital dust draws its audience to the glow of a screen, while the earth turns on its axis, oblivious to all of this. A lamp is lit, and a card is thrown. Another comment is offered, but the train traverses that landscape of the tableau regardless. Its compass is cultural, exotic, immeasurable, and the museums will try to capture it all, as if all artists were mere moths, which they are certainly not. 

Dominic Couturier has gone through numerous incarnations as an artist. With Michel Beaucage, Couturier created an outdoor sculpture in 2000 for the Foyer Ste. Antoine. An earlier project Novateur used found weed, flower and growth from the alleys and sidewalks of the city. These were encased in plastic water bottles that became object sculptures... A more recent collaborative project at the Insectarium in Montreal called theAbecedaire des insectes involved children’s inventive depictions of hybrid insects of the imagination were displayed on lightbox backgrounds that gave them a lively contemporary look.

A self-taught artist, some of Couturier's work involves multi-disciplinary levels of interpretation. His painterly process is likewise closely related to performance art. An actual evocation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, inspired the reinvention of Pook, one of those androgynous characters... Some of Couturier's s paintings have likewise involved burning, still others question what nature and mythology seek to represent. How are myths re-invented?  Some of Couturier's performance events like Siamo Tutti Fauna in collaboration with Konstruktionsvogel involve wearing tall black boots made from recycled materials by Julien Breard Godbout. As the artist walks around the floor, slightly elevated, he actually evokes Shakespeare’s spirited satyrs or even a pan-like figure with his flute.  Mid-summer night (2007) has an almost floral abstract gestural play to it, as if two mythological figures from a theatre of the imagination have materialized into this art piece. The same goes for the artwork titled Siamo tutti fauna (2008). It looks like a half-human, half-animal incarnation amid a panoply of plywood and surface and textural striations, as well as markings. This is chance with a guide. It is an approach to painting like operating one of those dowsing rods, and walking over the land, to find water. The land in this case is the artwork in process, and the water is what went into this paintings' joyful and visual delightful repartee.

Texture, the event of texture... and there is the precarious play with the edge and shape of the canvas. We see this in the more immediate diptych Rubayat VI + VII which is close-up textural. (So close you have to take a while to read the surface of what it is you see. Density plays a role too in these recent paintings. And the surface as a screen. It can impede the reading, or challenge the visual inter-relation of elements. The elements are textures in layers that work together.  They are the result of an ongoing evolution that Couturier's paintings have undergone. Elements as disparate as kitchen floor tiles, tar paint and wood all have been integrated into Couturier's paintings. There is a reason for this. It is a language of freedom of choice. The artists freedom to choose what he or she works with, what materials, what purpose their art may serve as well. Aesthetics or artistic practise can embrace the trivial or the ted neglected and subcultural. It need not reference art's history. Art rise s out of any occasion. Even boredom reminds us of that which is not boring. Among the recent works, one painting included an outline of a heart with crosses traversing the painting. Are these bomb sites, or are they spiritual icons, freeform in their placement they suggest a search for feeling, a siting of expression, and the random chaotic nature of life itself. Paint a brick or find a shadow form. Couturier comments, " I never have a subject to paint. Why paint?" and so he goes the experimental road, integrating fragments of real elements, a floor tile, a brick, and these are combined with patterned motifs, dots, crosses, then drips, accumulations of paint or tar. Density again.

There is no intention in this artist's work, but there is a sense of where he wants the painting to go. Instinct is a valued guide. Does context matter? The only context I see is the multi-textural, combinative agglomeration, explosion, reinvented impulse, that of a seeker for whom the journey is what matters, as it did for Jack Kerouac spontaneously open to larger forces, innocently working with what is available, an Arte Povera without all that historical layering... Thanks for that freedom! A.H.H. begins with a flat floorboard-like structure of repeated bands that cover the canvas. Attenuated transverse lines challenge that initial geometry with a little chaos. Krone I, II, and III (2007) use broken white floor tiles, integrating and contrasting them with a broad backdrop of surface structure that exists like a constant musical chord in the piece, while in two of these canvases there are those wandering black lines that challenge the broken fragment with an undulating sinuous unpredictability. Innu (2007) is like an art brut poetic icon. Or maybe it could be a burnt mask set on a strata of constructed, then forgotten, detritus, found again to be recycled as art. Some of these works like Lineaire (2006) are like portraits of an inner psyche, near mythological but definitely haunting in their intuitive exactitude. Like Edvard Munch's The Scream this piece awakens a primordial angst but in an age of imagistic relativity.

Dominic Couturier makes the art happen with a sense of the moment. These are like memory projections, invented scenarios, found as art, like the images Leonardo da Vinci would see on a blank wall, Couturier's paintings challenge our imagination, and encourage us to project our imagination into them.