Walk into the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal anytime after October 3 and you’re guaranteed a double take or two. That’s because one of Montreal’s most recognized painters, Pierre Dorion, is in the house…
Pierre Dorion is what you’d call a photorealist, because he creates paintings that are so sleek and perfect that they look more real than a photograph. But that’s just the technical aspect of his work. Dorion takes his talents at reproducing his environment and opens a dialogue with the history of art, to stretch the boundaries between representation and abstraction.
You’ve only got to walk down the hall and peer at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal’s permanent collection to see examples of the art works Dorion is fascinated by. In much of his recent work, Dorion starts with photographs of objects, environments or of another artist’s work – mostly an older generation of artist, often people who make art that’s minimalist. Then, whether it’s a fence he’s encountered on an aimless walk through New York, a hallway in a home or a glass vase by Daniel Buren hanging in a gallery, Dorion takes that photograph and paints it.
But he’s not looking to make things easy: he chooses compositions that mostly obliterate, or at least confuse, the sense of that original context. What undoubtedly really looked like a fence therefore becomes a series of black lines on a gray background. One step removed from reality, Dorion’s streamlined images often look more like piece of abstract art than anything.
“I like to focus on the details so that my images become so simplified and minimal, they become abstract even though they come from a representation and narrative origin,” says the artist. It’s a really cool process when someone else’s art is what he’s working with – you might see hints of a sculpture that you recognize, or a painting that looks familiar. But re-jigged, re-seen and reformatted, Dorion has made them all his own.
In this retrospective, which gathers together 60 plus works by Dorion and is his largest solo exhibition on home turf, you’ll see works from the beginning of his career up to the most recent – he’s painted two pieces specifically for this show. See if you can spot their original inspiration!
Pierre Dorion at the MACM, October 4, 2012 to January 6, 2013
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 185 Saintte-Catherine West, (514) 847-6226