Du bon usage de l’acide… (Putting Acid—and Burins, Rockers and Stone—to Good Use) reflects Simon Blais’ unflagging passion for the art of printmaking. For close to 23 years now, and to the great delight of gallery visitors and art buyers alike, Galerie Simon Blais has regularly mounted exhibitions of prints. In this new show, Simon Blais has gathered a number of the prints produced over the years under the gallery’s aegis, as well as etchings by some of the 20th century’s greatest European, American and, in particular, Canadian artists. Works by gallery stalwarts such as Marc Séguin, Carol Bernier, François-Xavier Marange and Irene Whittome will therefore be displayed alongside those of masters from the past like Jean Paul Riopelle, Jean McEwen, Yves Gaucher, Betty Goodwin, Lucian Freud, Joan Mitchell and Antoni Tàpies, to name only a few.
When he first began his career in the world of art in 1979, Simon Blais was a dealer in prints, and his interest in that particular art form has certainly never wavered. In a 2009 interview given to art historian Constance Naubert-Riser, he recalled the impetus for his passion: “As a print dealer, and as an expert for auction houses, I had to handle hundreds of original works. Those years [1979–1989] were decisive for me, as I not only discovered the beauty of line, but also the sensory attraction of paper and the smell of fresh ink. At that time, I felt works on paper had a greater refinement, a greater subtlety and luminosity than paintings.” The artisanal aspect of the printmaker’s work fascinates Simon Blais, and he has nothing but admiration for the artists who devote an incredible amount of time to learning the craft. He pays them sincerest tribute with this exhibition.