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Chantal Dupas | Learning about plants from a book


Lisa Kehler Art + Projects is delighted to announce Chantal Dupas’ first solo show with the gallery. Learning about plants from a book presents two new series of watercolours, expanding on Dupas’ ongoing interest in themes of memory, consumption, and transformation.           

While these themes have remained a constant for Dupas, the past few years have seen her focus shift from fauna to flora. Brought on by spending increasing amounts of time in her garden, she identifies: “I became fascinated with the sadness that hit me with every “weed” I pulled. I couldn’t help but question where this need to control and to “beautify” came from and would watch how the pulled weeds would transform as they wilted in the sun. It was here where I realized that I had my subject matter, still venturing into the abject, such as with the carcasses, but this was something I could bring into the studio with me and paint as it decayed.”

With her series, N 49º5_ W 97º1_, she discovered a new method in which to visually document this decaying process. “The fact that my subject matter changed from day to day, forced me to abandon certain passages and start fresh, allowing the pencil lines and underpainting from the day before to be exposed and therefore expose the painting process itself. This way of working also abstracted the subject, moving it away from a traditional botanical illustration and allowing the image to shift back and forth, both providing information while also negating it. It became not just about painting an individual specimen but also about capturing a moment in time.”

In the second series, Herbarium, she continues to document process, however that process is of someone else’s methods of documentation. As a volunteer at the University of Manitoba’s Herbarium, as well as current role as artist-in-residence at the Belmonte Laboratory (also at U of M), she was able to gain access to a plethora of species native to Churchill. The ways these plants were preserved hold as much weight in Dupas’ painting as did the plants themselves. Areas where tape, or heavy metal discs were used to press the plants down is portrayed with pencil, abstracting the documentation of the plant itself. The result is a delicate rendering of fragmented species.

Learning about plants from a book runs from February 6 to March 5, with an opening reception to be held on Saturday, February 6 from 2-5 pm. The artist will be in attendance.

Image:  N 49º5_ W 97º1_4, 2015. Watercolour on paper, 14 x 11 inches.

About the artist

Chantal Dupas is visual artist based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She holds a BFA from the University of Manitoba and has studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Yale University and the School of Visual Arts (SVA). Although primarily a painter, her work is never limited to one medium. In the past she has worked with various sculptural materials, ranging from bronze to ceramics, and has recently ventured into video and lab-based new media techniques. Her work has been exhibited across Canada, and is in private and corporate collections including TD Bank, and the Province of Manitoba.

Read the interview that accompanies the exhibition.

Earlier Event: January 2
Ted Barker: Detritus
Later Event: March 12
Shaun Morin | The Quiet Crescendo