Mike Weiss Gallery is pleased to present “Failures”, our first solo exhibition by Canadian artist Marc Séguin. War images, churches in ruin, iconic portraits of an assassin, a billionaire and a pope make up more than a dozen new paintings with ash, charcoal and oil on raw canvas. Using found images culled from the internet, history and text books, Séguin portrays moments in social, political, historical and personal timelines that are marked by the absence of success. From crumbling social institutions to a disintegrating religious authority and a vanished spiritual transcendence in art, Séguin’s work demands that viewers confront humanity’s failure to progress.
Séguin creates near-photographic quality grisailles only to deface the surface with clusters of expressive, ecstatic strokes of bold color or piles of deep black. These gestures are a nod to the spiritual power of Abstract Expressionism as well as an act of defiance to the authority of The Academy. By using ash as a medium — the last remnant of burnt matter which constitutes the corporeal and that which could not be further destroyed — Séguin resuscitates the discarded vestiges by assigning it an alternate function. The paintings are turned into an organic eulogy to that which no longer exists.
By alluding to historical events – the German massacre of a French town, the Holocaust, an assassination attempt – and failed ideologies such as the institution of marriage and the Church’s ability to protect, the paintings become commemorations of non-successes, the debris of crumbling near-achievements and forgotten debacles. Energy, viewers are reminded, cannot be destroyed, but only sublimated. The in- between process on the way to our goals is where life happens. Séguin’s paintings, with their whispered irony of failures, become a reminder of life.
Marc Séguin (b. 1970, Ottawa, Ontario) currently lives and works in Montreal, Québec and Brooklyn, NY. Séguin has exhibited extensively in Canada and the United States and has work in numerous museums and collections including Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, Musée des Beaux-arts de Montréal, François Pinault Collection, Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec, and the Cirque du Soleil Collection to list a few. When not painting in his Brooklyn studio, he spends his time in Montréal where he is an avid writer, hunter and harvester of maple syrup.
Séguin’s work and life was the recent subject of a feature-length documentary; Bull’s eye, un peintre à l’affût, (A Painter on the Watch) by writer/director Bruno Boulianne and Séguin’s first novel, La foi du braconnier (The Faith of a Poacher) published by Leméac, is due to be released in English in April 2011.