With this exhibition Galerie Simon Blais presents brand new paintings byMarc Séguin, a series of a dozen oil-on-canvas works entitled Ghost Lights (feu-follet), all executed in 2019 and continuing in the vein of his previous “landscapes.” As early as 2004, when he abandoned a more anthropomorphic form of representation, the burnt forest was the subject of his first series exploring the genre. Fifteen years later, he uses charcoal to draw the vestiges of a scorched natural world that is like a ruined cathedral. The extreme precision of the setting contrasts with the floating, foregrounded forms, reduced to mere outlines.
Landscape is an important aspect of Canadian painting, even an intrinsic constituent of it. Trusting his instinct, Marc Séguin has fun bending the rules governing the depiction of such often-idealized places. In 2006, in the series Black Box, he placed himself at odds with the tenets of the genre by showing aircraft wreckage under the name Landscape. In paintings of his from 2013, in contrast with the expected bucolic scenes, Brooklyn alleyways become desolate urban panoramas. Following the endless horizons of his 2017 series blanc, with this fifth “landscape” instalment, which he has entitled Ghost Lights (feu-follet), Séguin continues his explorations.
Are these paintings by an obviously Gen X painter the alarming declaration of the harm that has been done to nature? Undoubtedly, since the impact of the loss of ecosystems on animal species is no longer debatable. Nonetheless, these same paintings convey the age-old way of regenerating forest environments, as well as the hope engendered by the presence of the supernatural beings once described as ghost lights, will-o’-the-wisps or feux-follets, free or wandering spirits that were captivating, or sometimes unfriendly, tricksters, but always the guardians of mythical lands.
Several layers of meaning are superimposed and added on contradictory planes, but a dreamlike image remains, like a hazy memory escaping our grasp. A tragedy is being played out before us, that of a natural world that is elusive, yet outside of which no form of animal life is possible.