Céline Genest was born in Sherbrooke, Québec, studied Visual Arts and obtained her DEC (Diplôme d’Études Collégiales). She then furthered her studies at l’UQAM in Montreal and completed her Bachelor’s in visual arts at l’Université de Moncton, N.B. In 2018 she moved from Montreal to Charlo, in Northern New Brunswick where she works from her studio.
She started her twenty-five-year career as a CEGEP teacher in fashion illustration and then taught visual arts. Her research and explorations of different mediums and techniques in drawing, painting and colour classes impacted her personal work as an artist. In Montreal, in advanced workshops, she explored watercolour, pastel, stoneprinting, egg tempera, and on a weekly basis she drew from live models.
Her work is based within a sensory point of view from which she elaborates her ideas in series that are similar. Some paintings with more nature evolve in forest surroundings, detailed in highly coloured floral patterns where small human figures support the narrative. In other paintings with a more gestural approach, she paints human subjects overlapping and interfering in blurred atmospheres.
Her work has been displayed in both solo and group exhibits in private and public galleries in Moncton, NB, Montréal, The Laurentians, La Mauricie and Baie-Saint-Paul in Québec. Press coverage includes: L’Acadie Nouvelle, La Presse de Montréal, Magazine Arts and art exhibit catalogues.
The diptychs, the pivotal series - In November 2020, as winter was coming along, and amidst the chaotic confusion resulting from the global pandemic, I sat in my studio trying to fuse all these feelings together. My sketches revealed a need to confront and oppose conflicting impressions. The diptych form appeared as the best way to illustrate my intention. Canvases are linked to one another even though each side has its own essence. They compare and challenge and by doing so, individually intensify and enhance one another.
The human figure, natural environment, light and shadow’s joint interactions support and suggest many possible interpretations: peacefulness and threat, carefreeness and anguish, familiarity and strangeness, etc.
The individual paintings - As in the diptych, human figure and nature are the main constituents of the individual canvases. Affinity and connection in Complicité et Renaissance unfold in a carefree solace atmosphere, as if to display the other side of isolation’s mirror. In the Le Pin blanc and La Colline bleue, nature’s soothing qualities strengthen and ground.
- Céline Genest, October 2021
After living as an artist and an art teacher most of my life in Montreal, I moved to Charlo, N.B. where I started to focus on interpretive landscape painting. My first observations amidst nature, especially in the forest, lead me to discover it’s raw chaotic disorder from which gentle beauty arises. The overwhelming feeling of awe as the discovery went on, of small floral details so well combined into one big pattern generated a state of puzzled enchantment.
Inquiring on the subject, I was amazed by the great number of poems, writings, myths, legends and tales to name a few, where the forest is the main constituent. These specific features combined with the floral aesthetics are the basics of my work. The compositions often include planes of water bodies. This permits to balance a busy surface of floral details. Water soothes and suggests moments of poise while mirroring the sky and the environment.
The painting titled L’Étranger (The Stranger) depicts an overall view of floral planes where two figures, in the background, are engaged in some sort of narration. Here the observer may want to imagine to different narratives. La Pause au Lac, (A Pause at the Lake) and Le Chant de la Cascade, (The Waterfall Song) illustrate more intimate views to which one might be attracted to capture the elusiveness of the moment.
My goal, by choosing the use of bright colours, is to bypass reality and to illustrate a more supernatural or sacred space where by chance, our eyes, wide open, settle upon an unusual light.