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
* * *
Étienne Gélinas à la Galerie Richelieu
Du 15 au 21 octobre 2017
7903, rue Saint-Denis
Site web de l’artiste : http://www.etiennegelinas.com