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Se Camoufler à l’ére de

January 8, 2014

Jeffrey Poirier
Se Camoufler à l’ére de
Centre des arts et de la culture Dieppe
331 avenue Acadie
Dieppe NB E1A 1G9
(29 November 2013 – 28 February 2014)
This article was originally published in
The Saint John New Brunswick Telegraph Journal Salon Section
on Saturday, December 28th. 2014.

se camoufler largeWhen I walked into the gallery space at the Dieppe Arts and Culture Centre and saw Jeffrey Poirier’s installation, Se Camoufler à l’ére de, my first thought was that it was made of plastic and was some sort homage to Lego, but, as I got closer to the work, I realized that it was something quite different and much more interesting. Rather than plastic blocks, the work was constructed of folded cardboard and coloured tape; more a homage to origami than to Danish toy blocks. I am not generally a big fan of installation works which I often find boring and, more often than not, sloppy in their execution. This work is strikingly beautiful both in its construction and installation and it is certainly not boring. The gallery is, first, a very handsome space for this type of art: a glass fronted box which allows the viewer to see the work from outside the gallery. As well, the space provides for dramatic lighting that is done very well in this exhibition. I think that this is the nicest small exhibition space that I have seen in the greater Moncton area.

Poirier is a French born, young Quebec artist with a recent MFA, 2012, from Laval with a rather impressive record of installation works in Quebec and, as far as I can tell, this is his first exhibition in outside the province. Se camouflager à l’ére de is, to its credit, labour intensive and, I am told by Luc Gaudet, the director of Dieppe Culture Centre, is a cooperative effort by the artist and his friends, with Poirer’s ideas being realized by a joint effort in its execution. A rough translation of work’s title, a sentence fragment, is: ‘to hide or camouflage oneself in the age of’ which certainly speaks of ambiguity and that is the installation’s primary quality; what you think you see is not actually what is there. The term trompe l’œil comes to mind which is a fancy term, generally about painting, but works here as well, to fool the eye. I don’t mind being fooled when the result is enjoyment.

An element of this installation that works in its favour is its scale. Large is not necessarily better, but here the size is just right. Poirier says, in his online artist’s statement, that he enjoys constructing his sculpture is situ or on site to fit where they are made. He needs to think about how can he use the exhibition space to maximize the effectiveness of the work, tailor it to space. This is very different from hanging paintings on a wall or placing sculptures in a fixed gallery space. Lighting, as I said earlier, is certainly an important part of this exhibition. Here the light isolates the work within the darkened gallery giving it a sense of drama that would be lacking in a uniformly lit space.

There is a playful qualise camoufler detailty to the work as well that illustrates the artist’s sense of humour, as I looked closely at it, I came across an adhesive price tag still stuck to the folded cardboard material used in its construction for $3.99. If you take your time with this work you well be rewarded. Another element, I found interesting, which links back to its ambiguity, is the material wrapped around the installation’s right side. I cannot tell if is supposed to wrap around the back of work and appear, like a piece of tape, in the cut out window of the white wall or the opposite, the leftover from the stuff in the window, trailing off and falling on the floor. Either way, it is an interesting coda that completes the work.

In the end, Se camouflager à l’ére reminds me of a modern take on Piet Mondrian and Constructivism if nothing more than both artists use of coloured tape and little more than primary colours in Poirier’s case yellow, blue, red and green. As well, Poirier shares both simplicity and clarity with the Dutch master. Of course, Poirier is a young artist just starting out on his career and it might be unfair to saddle him with a comparison with Mondrian, but it is good to come across a young artist with a fresh vision who is not afraid of hard work.
I certainly look forward to seeing more exhibitions at the Dieppe Arts and Culture Centre and I recommend that people in the greater Moncton area take the opportunity to see this exhibition. It is worth it.

© Virgil Hammock, Sackville NB Canada, Sunday, December 22, 2013.

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