© Étienne Gélinas. Composition 477. Detail.

The happy artist

He sees me through the gallery win­dow, seems pleas­ant­ly sur­prised and smiles at me. I know him first as a col­league at Spiria, then as an artist. One of his works is hang­ing in the com­pa­ny’s cafe­te­ria. I only found out this morn­ing that he was exhibit­ing his new works and, on top of that, very close to home.

The gallery seems emp­ty to me. I was expect­ing a for­mal open­ing, with a host of friends com­ing to sup­port the artist. This does not seem to dis­turb Eti­enne Géli­nas to any great extent. He is a reg­u­lar, has been rolling his lit­tle man for some time now, has made his name, I dis­cov­er him a lit­tle lat­er dur­ing our con­ver­sa­tion when he inter­rupts me to greet a cou­ple leav­ing the gallery own­er’s office. He came back to me after they left the place.

— They just bought my blue can­vas here.

We return to his paint­ings. I already admired the qual­i­ty of the work at Spiria and was real­ly inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about him. I con­fess to him that I am pas­sion­ate about geom­e­try and that his works chal­lenge me pre­cise­ly by this mix­ture of chaos and order. He is hap­py, his eyes light up, explains to me what I already feel. The uni­verse is struc­tured, feeds, lives on atavis­tic algo­rithms, forged from the impulse of the quan­tum jolts that com­pose it. The artist, espe­cial­ly the visu­al, like a shaman, drinks from this unshake­able and inescapable flow.

Éti­enne Géli­nas’ work is a clever but nev­er obtuse amal­gam of archi­tec­tur­al plans, acrylic tex­tures that blur the cards, Leonar­dian drawings.

— Why did­n’t you tell the Spiria employ­ees that you were exhibit­ing your paint­ings ? (Spiria has an office in Gatineau, where he works.)

— I don’t know. I don’t know. I rushed to fin­ish these paint­ings. I’m not sure what they’re worth. I mean, yes, but… I’m keep­ing a lit­tle embar­rass­ment for myself.

I am sur­prised at his mod­esty, continue :

— You know, I have a friend who, I know, if he saw your paint­ings, would prob­a­bly have the same emo­tion as if he was look­ing at a Riopelle in front of whom he can eas­i­ly cry…

Éti­enne does­n’t bite my ver­bal swelling, answers rather calmly :

— I think I would start cry­ing too if I saw some­one cry­ing in front of one of my paintings.

I under­stand that. Artists are eager for con­tacts, even sym­bol­ic ones. No one wants to live a dis­em­bod­ied exis­tence. This after­noon I am delighted.

We talk at length, about his works, but also about work, about me too, since he did­n’t know I was writ­ing. I’m hap­py to talk to him, he who seems hap­py to me. I don’t have the nth of his pres­ence and vig­or. Lis­ten­ing to him, sur­round­ed by his paint­ings, is sooth­ing. His paint­ings also con­vey this tran­quil­i­ty while forc­ing the eye to rein­vent itself.

— One of my clients, he says, admits to med­i­tat­ing reg­u­lar­ly while sip­ping cof­fee in the morning.

— What a joy, you must be proud !

He smiles at me, his eyes geo­met­ri­cal­ly aligned with the cer­tain­ty of duty accomplished.

I have to leave him. The time has passed too quickly.

Just before I took leave, a cou­ple arrived. The man imme­di­ate­ly went to Stephen, reached out to him.

— Mr. Géli­nas, I would like to intro­duce myself…

* * *

Éti­enne Géli­nas at Galerie Richelieu

From 15 to 21 Octo­ber 2017
7903 Saint-Denis Street
Mon­tre­al, Quebec
H2R 2G2

* * *

Éti­enne Géli­nas à la Galerie Riche­lieu

Du 15 au 21 octo­bre 2017
7903, rue Saint-Denis
Mon­tréal, Québec
H2R 2G2

Site web de l’artiste :