A Serious Painter, Marc Ouellette
When one first encounters a painting or group of paintings by Marc Ouellette, it is impossible to ignore his bold approach to both color and composition, the instinctual correctness of form, weight and line. Primarily, Ouellette is a figurative painter, though the figures he chooses as subjects are not restricted to the human animal, nor even to the animal world.
The humble farm animals have a glorious presence. Each fairly quivers with vitality. How?: a draftman’s attention to animate muscle and sinew, hide, beak, and plumage, the choice to fill the canvas so that the sole subject–the donkey, the rooster, the sow–bursts the rectilinear bounds. These lives emerge from dark, obscure backgrounds and hold us in thrall to their mute dignity.
The other, more personally significant (we may assume from his Artist Statement) grouping of Ouellette’s work are the corpulent human figures. These subjects are almost always placed in minimalized, merely suggestive public settings–the beach, poolside, the park; a subway car or airport lounge. The settings, whether natural or artificial, are awash in cold, glinting light (and that light is the other subject in these paintings). Generally, the figures are scantilly clothed, often wearing swimsuits, or sloppily dressed in leisurewear. They are exposed in moments of mundane activity like drinking, yawning, texting, staring off into space. These paintings could be understood as anonymous portraits of appetite, loneliness, lassitude, melancholia, self-indulgence, indifference, or any combination thereof. Flesh here appears neither rosie, nor luxurious, nor erotic. It is not jolly flesh (these are not jolly characters); it is heaviness, and it is starkly real, recognizable to most viewers. However, it would be a mistake to assume the subjects of these paintings are intended as objects of disdain or derision. Ouellette paints beautifully what might be deemed ugly, with a determination to convey truth.
These are serious paintings; there is a commitment to both the expert application of paint to canvas and to the conveyance of ideas. The beauty is in the seriousness.
MARC OUELLETTE | PORTRAITS
Asheville, North Carolina
September 8 - September 30 | 2017
821 Riverside Drive #179
Asheville, NC 28801 United States