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In the city of Old Quebec lies a jewel box of an art gallery – the Villa Bagatelle – a two-story restored Victorian home curated by the Cultural Division of the City of Quebec. Between now and December 18th this 1700 sq. ft. facility will house 40 mosaics by three of the art form’s most accomplished North American artists: Jo Braun (USA), Lynne Chinn (USA) and Sophie Drouin (Canada).
The exhibit is entitled Forward Mosaic! – or En Avant La Mosaique! as they say in Quebec – and it is a lovely example of what a rich visual experience contemporary mosaics can be in a well-curated setting.
Villa Bagatelle Curator and Manager Eric Dumas made very considered use of the space – the pieces don’t just sit there, plunked on a wall one after the other – there is a balance, flow and cohesiveness to the presentation.
We are also extremely appreciative of Dumas’ care in using custom hues of paint for each wall. These colors visually link pieces done by three very different artists. There is a continual soft glow throughout the exhibit. Focused lighting does an excellent job of bringing out the characteristics of color, texture, relief, reflection and refraction that are the hallmarks of mosaic as a fine art form. We are told that opening night visitors were dazzled.
This extraordinary exhibit invites and challenges the viewer to share the artists perspectives expressed in an art medium that is deeply rooted in history and has now firmly joined the ranks of contemporary art.
We say Bravo! In every language.
Now, about the artists . . . And don’t forget to click to enlarge.
Sophie Drouin: Of the Earth
Ms. Drouin’s work is unmistakeable for its exploration of the materials of the earth. A co-author of “Listening to the Rocks,” Drouin finds great joy and spiritual gratification in exploring the beauty and artistic possibilities of the earth’s most basic components. Stones, crystals, fossils, minerals, and metals are split, sliced, cut, bent and manipulated to form her primary palette. Often, she will incorporate various types of glass – a product of the alchemy of firing silica and minerals together – in her work.
Marble, apophylite, smalti, gold smalti, dichroic glass, sodalite, granite, lapis lazuli, copper, Dalle de Verre, amazonite, apatite, emerald.
Drouin’s work is at its most astonishing when she captures every day phenomena that transform organic materials from one thing to another. The laws of physics and chemistry cannot be denied. Matter changes. Awakening (above) is an excellent example of Drouin’s ability to capture these ephemeral moments of change with great beauty. Here is how she describes the work:
Also on view at the Villa Bagatelle is our favorite work by Ms. Drouin, Evanescence.
Evanescence, according to one on-line dictionary is defined as “quickly fading from sight, memory, or existence.”
The title of this work is apt. There is still heat in those glowing pieces of glass at the center of the work even as the edges cool and turn to ash/marble. Another moment in time is captured beautifully through Drouin’s mastery of her materials.
Drouin is also well known for her sense of whimsy and fun (the concert violinist also plays the saw). Forward Mosaic! includes several works that prove this point, our favorite being Medusa.
It’s my memory of the interior of the 1970 Saphire radio in our VW squareback–I used to stare inside it to see the little man (hey, I was a toddler and they didn’t make us sit in car seats back then).
Readers of the Mosaic Art NOW magazine and blog are already familiar with the work of Lynne Chinn. Her Geode, currently on display at the Villa Bagatelle, graced our 2009 cover and is the icon for our blog. Best of all, it usually lives at our house.
We find Chinn’s work most exciting when she is creating her own cosmic, fragile species of beings from the cold, hard matter of glass.
Her latest work, Outcropping, could be a group of tumbling alien lichen or maybe a cluster of yet-to-be-discovered mollusks clinging to an ocean shelf.
The artist’s background in fashion illustration and design is evident in the andamento and patterning she uses to such great effect in her mosaics. Scales, snake skin, and nacre – all manner of living creature “outerwear” come to mind. Winged Geode was a Finalist in the prestigious international mosaic Orsoni Award of 2007, a bit of an upset in the mosaic world as an American woman was selected by two Italian jurors who are mosaic legends themselves.
Fabrics also provide inspiration for Chinn.
In Undulate, we see two pieces of cloth played against each other. A rich, heavy tapestry provides the background to a swath of something airy and ephemeral billowing above it. Again, you see Chinn’s magic in creating lightness and movement from hard materials.
Not surprisingly, Undulate won the Best in Show title for Mosaic Arts International 2009 and Ms. Chinn’s classes fill up in an instant.
As if these works of art wouldn’t be enough to get you to the Villa Bagatelle, there are also two speaking events planned; Professor JeanAnn Dabb on November 15th and artist Sophie Drouin on November 16th.
Go, and if you do, please tell us about it.
Enjoy – Nancie
CHECK OUT the exhibit
VISIT Sophie Drouin’s website
VISIT Jo Braun’s website
VISIT Lynne Chinn’s website