Jules Arbec, Art Critic

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The creative function implies constant research for the artist who must convey the surrounding environment and capture the myriad details that will help him or her artfully render its finest subtleties.  As for Marie-Hélène Beaudry, these objectives constitute a privileged road carrying her forward in an intense and profound creative adventure permitting her to see and give live.

Above all, for Beaudry, the act of painting becomes an all-consuming passion, and a willingness to project her message into the very depth of sensory experience, going even beyond matter.  She thus weaves the secret links uniting reality with imagination, matter with spirit.  Like her previous work, her current production is defined by her attitude and the receptivity and openness she has towards people and objects.  This availability comes by experimenting with different methods of expression.  For her, this does not imply she arbitrarily submits herself to the various techniques – challenging, as they may be – but rather, that she deliberately avoids the beaten path.

With audacity, she attempts the different steps of the process, initially focusing on the development of the background.  This preoccupation with space manifests itself by the use of dripping and other gesticular methods as she transgresses and overflows the parameters that one would normally call upon.  Influenced as she is by her sculptural work, the artist tames the form with determination and spirit.  She emphasizes its contours in order to better convey its inner meaning in a conscious and constant dialogue.  Marie-Hélène Beaudry passes modelling to the enhancement of metal pieces, from wood to stone treatment, then devoting herself almost exclusively to pictorial production.  For her, this language still has a rapport with space, which she attempts to invest with magnitude and depth.

The artist develops the two dimensional aspect of the picture with a formal vocabulary borrowed from her sculptures, by focusing on the acuity and pertinence of the mass.  The elaboration of the pictorial scope meets her willingness to fully inhabit the work, or to become one with it in the most physical sense of the term.  For Beaudry, the human body, and the exploration of its shape, becomes the picture’s centre.  First, she shows a gallery of characters whose presence is defined and defined and redefined by going back and forth from abstraction to figuration.

The artist creates distance from her work in order to develop a more objective treatment of her subject.  This distance allows her to establish an implicit and explicit rapport between the painting’s components.  Motion results, rendering the entire work dynamic.

In this commotion, one can talk about the particular rendition of the individuals who become, in many regards, the conscious or unconscious projections of the artist’s corporal shape, which literally invades the space.  Beaudry actualizes and gives it value in a range, which practically constitutes the true language of her work.

These quasi-human forms can be perfectly rendered or simply suggested.  They emerge from the background, then inhabit and define the painting, flowing from the more or less stated interaction, which ultimately links them. The strokes, at once supply and sustained, discretely reinforce the contours of the forms, accentuating here and there the illusion of volume, side by side with the rather flat treatment governing the structure of her painting.

The viewer becomes a witness to a continuous transition from the second to the third dimension, or vice-versa, producing an internal pulse favouring the picture’s unity.  The same motion attracts the eye, which measures the space by penetrating the painting’s interior, thus becoming a new world to discover and a new universe to rebuild.  Here, the judicious use of colours is its reflection.  In fact, Marie-Hélène Beaudry is an accomplished master of colour, while conserving a restrained palette whose tones remain precise and rich by the enveloping shades.  From the gradual range of colours flows a soft atmosphere inspiring a dream-like vision of the person, who then becomes both subject and object of the creation…of the reflection.

In this discreet climate, Marie-Hélène Beaudry shares her emotions much like a secret she veils and then unveils on the painting’s surface.  By their density, her forms and colours become words and questions, making us progress from the visible to the invisible, from the imaginary to the real.

Jules Arbec Art Critic

Marie-Christine Lussier, author

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Nowhere and everywhere. A space where the artist is at ease.

Marie-Hélène Beaudry’s work breathes freedom. Her paintings have a unique quality; they evolve before our very eyes. He transcendent shapes convey the viewer into another dimension… and the viewer is more than tempted. His consenting eyes are captured by the imaginary, he adapts his dreams to the world he sees, he becomes himself creator.

For Marie-Hélène, the creative process begins with emptiness. An hour of meditation is an absolute must before holding the brush. To be in tune with the moment, the sky has to be clear.

The expression of her work is spontaneous and experimental because she is constantly evolving from one world to another.

She worships the moment, this is why she imposes on herself no constraint and no plan. The immaculate canvas will dictate the path.

Marie-Hélène has an intimate relationship with colors. She dives into the Prussian blue, she soars with the luminous ocres. Like a chameleon, she alters her skin color to embrace the mutant on the canvas. She will just go where she needs to go. That’s how free spirits do.

There are so many avenues in art, but one thing that should be said about Marie-Hélène Beaudry’s work is that it invites us to rise above the routine of life. It is everything but real.

The essence of dreams is lightness and fantasy. So be it, thinks the unrestrained artist before discarding the thought itself.

Let there be light!

Marie-Christine Lussier, author

2010 April/May
Gallery & Studio

Ed McCormack
Deciphering the Enigmatic Iconography of Marie-Hélène Beaudry.pdf

2008-09 December/January
Gallery & Studio

Ed McCormack
Marie-Hélène Beaudry: The School Boy as Mercury

2007 September/October
Gallery & Studio
Ed McCormack : Marie-Hélène Beaudry at Caelom Gallery: Scenes from the Life of a living Doll – Page 8

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Marie-Hélène Beaudry at Caelum Gallery :

Scenes from the Life of a Living Doll

The little girl with the thick brown pigtails in the black and white polka-dot blouse and bright red skirt has an eerie, fixed smile on her face, as she romps on the seashore, sometimes in the company of a double, who could either be her twin or one of those imaginary friends lonely children sometimes conjure up as playmates.

The latter possibility would seem especially likely, since the little girl is actually a doll and therefore somewhat imaginary herself, being a repository for the imaginations of others. However, she is “a living doll” -not in the way that term is usually meant, as a signifier for “cute” ( she seems too complex a character to be summed up with such a saccharine word), but in the most literal sense: a doll that has actually come to life, like Pinocchio, the little puppet in Carlo Lorenzini’s nineteenth century morality tale for children, whose nose grew whenever he told a lie.

Like Pinocchio, too, the little doll-girl who serves as the protagonist of Marie-Hélène Beaudry’s new series of paintings at Caelum Gallery, 508-526 West 26 th Street, from October 16 through November 3 ( with a reception on October 18, from 6 to 8 PM ), is engaged in a sequence of picaresque adventures. However, one does not get the sense that its denouement will teach her (and us) some moral lesson. For Beaudry is a quintessentially postmodern painter, and post-modernists in both visual art and literature do not go in for denouements. Nor do they generally like to offer pat prescriptions regarding right and wrong.

So rather than a morality tale, what this widely exhibited and celebrated Quebec artist’s fifth solo show at Caelum gallery suggests is a non linear existential fable as devoid of closure as the DVD by Beaudry that runs continuously on a video monitor in the gallery in tandem with her paintings. It is called “Life is Doll,” and features a succession of people in the Beaudry’s studio (where some of the same paintings as in the gallery can be seen on the walls), seated on a little vehicle with wheels-a”dolly”? attempting to answer a question posed by the artist: “Why is Life Doll ?”

Perhaps because of the artist’s French Canadian accent, and because some of the people being interviewed might also be more fluent in French than English -not to mention that the question would also make more sense that way anyway – most of them seem to take the word “doll” as “dull.” ( That English is obviously a second language for the artist and for at least some of the interviewees causes a slight cognizant dissonance that makes the pun go down easily!)

The one exception is a bodacious younger woman who bursts into a raucous version of the song, “Black Satin Dolls,” then grows more subdued and says, “Life is a doll, and like a doll, you should take care of it…”

The others, however, almost all offer earnest explanations of why life is or isn’t dull, making the entire tape an intriguing series of non sequiturs that reminded this reviewer of the tongue-in-cheek “screen tests” that Andy Warhol used to conduct for prospective “superstars” at the Factory. Only, unlike Andy’s preening exhibitionists, the people in Beaudry’s video seem infinitely more thoughtful, as they respond to the question, as though to defend life itself (“Why is life dull? I don’t think so…I find it painful sometimes, but not dull,” says one man).

Very often video and painting don’t work together very well, each distracting from the other; but in this exhibition the two disparate mediums meld perfectly, the indeterminacy of the interviewees, as they ponder the issue of ennui, complementing the interestingly “unfinished” quality of the paintings, wherein even the waves often appear tentative, as they roll up to the shore like murky gray shadows. Like the shadows on a sleepless child’s bedroom wall morphing into monsters, at times the shadowy surf in Beaudry’s painting can appear almost sinister, as though its undertow could seize the doll-child by her ankles and drag her out to sea; or as if one of its waves could rear up to engulf for forever in the general overcast gray of the painterly day.

The child, however, appears fearless, even Napoleonic, as she sits in one picture astride a toy lamb, sporting a floppy, feathered hat like that of a Cavalier, with a much smaller Barbie-type figure dangling from one hand like some vanquished foe or trophy in a War of the Dolls. Or, in another, appears to dunk a somewhat larger bald baby-doll in the water as though to baptize or drown it, all the while regarding the viewer with those big, not-quite-innocent eyes and that familiar fixed grin. Or, in yet another, appears impish, smiling her weird little Howdy Doody grin as a gust of wind lifts her red skirt to reveal her blank little doll buttocks, while her double gawks mischievously on the beige beach, with the vast gray sea filling the entire horizon like a silvery sky.

Indeed, like Luc Tuymans and Marlene Dumas, Marie-Hélène Beaudry has a way of using close-valued colors to blur the boundaries and distinctions between forms, making one thing look like another, creating a sense of ambiguity that can charge the most ordinary moments with an atmosphere of anxiety or even sublimity.

Such moments exemplify magic that is possible in painting, the only medium besides poetry in wich a perception of something ostensibly real can metamorphose from concrete to fanciful in the time it takes to traverse the short distance from the brain to the hand.

In fact, these pictures are invariably as much about the subtle little felicities of painting as whatever they purport to depict. Just as her brushstrokes are simultaneously surrogates for the flow of water and objects of delectation in their own right, the size of her paintings in relation to the body of the viewer says something as actual and abstracts as the spaces she evokes within the confines of the canvas, demonstrating the conceptual complexity that makes Marie-Hélène Beaudry a consistently fascinating artist.

Ed McCormack

Gallery & Studio, September/October 2007

2005 December
Magazine – Parcours
Robert Bernier signs a 2 pages articles

2004 June
TV Program – Radio-Canada
‘‘Une Emission en Couleur’’uses 10 paintings as a decor from June 11-29.

2003 December
Magazine – Femme Plus

Designed Marie-Hélène Beaudry ‘‘Femme du Mois’’ (Women of the month)
Named Marie-Hélène Beaudry as the woman of the month, and published an article, by Elaine Caire, on her personal journey.

2003 October
Magazine – Parcours

Published an article, entitled, ‘‘Détermination motrice’’, by Nathalie Paquin,
analyzing the artwork of Marie-Hélène Beaudry in her solo show in Montreal.

2003 September
Radio – Radio-Canada

Joël le Bigot, Radio-Canada’s morning man, invited his listeners to Marie-Hélène Beaudry solo artshow at the gallery ‘‘Espace Parcours’’ qualifying it of ‘’interesting , must see’’.

1995 January
TV Program – Radio-Canada

‘‘La Ruée vers l’Art’’
Marie Plourde interviews the artist about her solo exposition at the gallery, ‘‘L’Inspecteur Epingle’’. Marie-Hélène Beaudry is asked for comments about the underground art world.

1985 April
Revue – Les Idées de ma Maison

Article on hand-painted fabrics and the use of new fabrics

1985 January
Journal – La Presse

The well-regarded journalist Madeleine Dubuc presents the artist’s work and the spirit in which it evolves.

1984 October
Revue – Les Idées de ma Maison

‘‘Six décors signés Eaton’’
A regular column, titled ‘‘Six décors signés Eaton’’, illustrated an example of painted fabric used for wall covering.

1984 May
Revue – Les Idées de ma Maison

“The article, ‘‘Made in Quebec”, described the work in progress of the artist for upholstery fabric, T-shirts and the fashion world.

1983 November
Montreal Local TV

Mme Marie Lussier and a team of specialists in art history discuss the evolution of printing on wall paper and upholstery fabric.  In conclusion, Mme Lussier presents the work of Marie-Hélène Beaudry as ‘’era of Hope, a solution for an electronic world.’’

1983 October
TV Program – Radio-Canada

Winston McQuaide interviews Marie-Hélène Beaudry on the procedures leading from the artistic production up to marketing of the product. The artist introduced the term: “toiles utilisables”.

1983 October
TV Program – CFTM-10

‘‘Entre Nous’’
Madeleine Arbour, a well-known Montreal designer, presented Equinox, a collection of fabric designs for furniture upholstery, created by Marie Hélène Beaudry.

1983 January
Newspaper – The Gazette

Anabelle King praises the quality of fabric painting by the artist Recognition that this art represented a distinctly new development.