First artistic shock at age 19: Van Gogh. Then the masters: Picasso, “the absolute painter of the 20th century”; Riopelle “our blood”; and the Chinese Qi Baishi “for the gesture and contrasts”. Michel Beaucage could talk about painting for hours. But most of the time, every day of the week in fact, he paints. Like others going to work. During 40 years, on three successive continents.

Hanging on your living room wall, a painting by Michel Beaucage, a Montreal painter now living in Knowlton for almost three years, never leaves one indifferent. Gestural, organic, vibrant, evocative, his paintings command attention, from both the amateur and the seasoned collector. The brush-stroke is broad, the planes often overlap. Everything in his artistic process: the sources of inspiration, supports (cardboard, canvases, rice paper), and mediums (acrylics, etchings, collages), are witness to his bold, unlimited artistic quest.

“I have worked hard on transparency,” he says. Pointing to a dragon head on rice paper, he crystallized his point: “That is the outcome of a technique that I developed which enables me to create an effect of pure transparency.”

Knowlton: Art lab, cultural life and nature

“To live and work in Knowlton is an incredible thing. Above all, I am part of the cultural life of the town due to Galerie atelier Art lab where I can work, show my paintings and interact with other artists and visitors. I also paint in my personal studio, in the middle of nature. A nature that inspires me more and more.”

The first influences

Van Gogh’s self-portrait with a blue background, which triggered his career path, has left tracks. In his paintings, the metallic blue, almost violet, stands out like a signature. Beyond the influence of the grand masters, that of Michel Goulet, “an important professor at UQAM”, and his apprenticeship as an engraver at the Pasnic workshop in Paris during the early 1990s, had an enormous impact on his career and how he learned to understand space. “An American critic even told me that, for her, my paintings were engravings,” he confided, laughing.

Cultural renown on three continents

In China, where he worked six months in the early 2000s, he participated in several events, expositions and projects. “In Xi’an, I painted on the spot for ten days, a twenty-five feet long mural.” A gallery in Shanghai still represents him there. One can also find “Beaucages” in Spain (a sojourn of four months in Majorca), in Toronto, in Montreal (Galerie Éric Devlin) and in over forty private, institutional and public Canadian and American collections. In 2017, the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec purchased all of his Parisian works, at a considerable price, making them available to the public at large.

The painter Michel Beaucage can be contacted at the Gallery Art lab, 341 Knowlton Road, or by telephone at (514) 885-5502. A book about his artwork is set for release this coming autumn.

Translation: Tam Davis