Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Blog Review: Manon Labrosse visual artist

Photo of Manon Labrosse courtesy of

Manon Labrosse is an Ottawa-based artist who grew up in the small francophone community of Hearst in Northern Ontario.  Having received a B.F.A from the University of Ottawa in 2002, she has resided in the nation's capital since 1998.  In the bio and artist statement that appears on her blog, she describes her work as follows:
Using the landscape to explore childhood memories from living in Northern Ontario, her work is mostly abstract except for a few chosen shapes, such as telephone poles, power lines or as per her current work, log piles.  Having an interest in symbolism, she hopes that using a shape or symbol repetitively throughout a series will create a pattern that will evoke individual connections or memories. 
On her blog, Labrosse has posted images of many of her paintings.  After reviewing her work, I found her style to to very intriguing.  One technique I particularly like is her decision to let certain drops of paint roll down the canvas, leaving clear lines.  My initial reaction when I saw this was to think of tear drops or rain drops, which create a melancholic feeling when combined with the abstract background.  These lines, however, can also symbolise an awakening, such as in her current series of paintings called Thaw, in which the lines can be thought of as the melting of snow and ice.

Thaw 4 by Manon Labrosse courtesy of

"I started this series excited about spring, about the thaw, the warmer weather, but winter keeps snapping me back to reality, which is, that winter drags on and on in Ottawa," Labrosse writes in a blog post about Thaw.  "[F]or those of us anxiously waiting for that magical time of year when birds are chirping, the sun is higher, the air smells fresher.... uh, well, it's not happening quite yet, and no amount of vitamin D supplements are going to help me now."

My favourite paintings by her are from an earlier exhibit at Art Image in Gatineau titled le paysage désolé et les pylônes.  On the left is a painting from this exhibit, which beautifully combines an abstract landscape with the shape of power lines, whose reflection can be seen on the ground.

Another series that echoes paysage désolé is her collection of paintings called power lines.  Whereas the dark colours of paysage désolé give the sense of a calm, even tranquil night, the strong red in many of the paintings in power lines produce a much more haunting effect.  For instance, looking at power lines I could imagine that the sky was bleeding.

Labrosse's work will next be on display at the Le pARTy yearly auction of the Ottawa Art Gallery.  The fundraiser at 2 Daly Avenue is scheduled for May 30, and is a great opportunity to buy art from local artists, such as Labrosse.  A group show of many artists from the National Capital Region will then be on display for about a week following the auction.  

If you want to see more of Labrosse's work, her paintings can be found at Galerie St-Laurent + Hill.  For specific examples of her work at the gallery web site click here.  In the meantime, you can read her blog to follow her artistic evolution.

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