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The 8th Biennale internationale d’estampe contemporaine de Trois-Rivières

The 8th Biennale internationale d’estampe contemporaine de Trois-Rivières opening2

Vernissage at BIECTR. Photo by Olivier Croteau.

 

The Biennale internationale d’estampe contemporaine de Trois-Rivières is an extraordinary event.  On July 4th I hopped into my car in Montreal, cruised under picture perfect sunny skies despite the storm warning, and in two hours flat, found myself marveling at spectacular prints.

 

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Musée Pierre-Boucher. Far wall: Grosse tête cintrée series by François Morelli. Photo: Félix Michaud.

 

The BIECTR, one of the most important international printmaking competitions in Canada, has been taking place every two years since 1999.  Its mandate is to promote contemporary printmaking and to celebrate the diversity and current trends of this medium as they are expressed around the world.  The quality of its presentations along with the impressive list of parallel print related exhibitions and activities make BIECTR a unique event in Canada and in North America.

 

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Musée Pierre-Boucher. Photo: Talleen Hacikyan.

 

The BIECTR showcases 58 artists from 22 countires exhibiting 330 prints in 4 venues: the Centre d’exposition Raymond-Lasnier, the Galerie d’art du Parc, the Musée Pierre-Boucher and the Old Rail Station. This art circuit, along with the parallel exhibitions, take the public on an enchanting tour of the historical centre of Trois-Rivières.

 

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L’Ancienne gare ferroviaire de Trois-Rivières. Photo: Félix Michaud.

 

Each artist presents four to seven prints. There are also a few print based installations. The works have been grouped together according to themes that deal with politics, history, nature, story, and memory.  The texts accompanying the groupings, written by Jo Ann Lanneville and Élisabeth Mathieu set the tone for responding to the work and are thought-provoking.

I spoke with Jo Ann Lanneville, President of BIECTR.  I asked her if different tendencies emerge from one Biennale to the next.  She confirmed my supposition and said that this year there were many submissions of work dealing with the road trip experience and questions of identity as it refers to place. Many works also express a preoccupation with sociopolitical and environmental issues.  Jo Ann pointed out that there are several mezzotint prints this year, including those of Thai artist, Kraisak Chirachaisakul, the Grand Prize winner.

 

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La Galerie d’art du Parc. Photo: Talleen Hacikyan.

 

Visiting BIECTR is like going on a treasure hunt.  With my map in hand, I walked from venue to venue, at a leisurely pace, reflecting on the art I had just seen, catching the sites along the way and anticipating the next exhibition.  Each space has its own character. I loved visiting the Galerie d’art du Parc, housed in the charming Manoir de Tonnancour, built in 1723. This year BIECTR features a new venue, the Musée Pierre-Boucher, the museum of the Trois-Rivières seminary.  This peaceful space, that houses a beautiful chapel, is conducive to reflecting on the art.

 

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Marilee Salvator, Growth Patterns, Etching, lithography, digital printing, wood, 259 x 988 x 5 cm, 2010 -2011. Photo: Olivier Croteau.

 

My favorite piece in the Biennale is Growth Patterns by American artist, Marilee Salvatore.  She has combined etching, lithography, digital printing and wood to create this magnificent installation.  I sat on a strategically placed bench across the piece and admired the play of colorful cell-like shapes, growing into a tree that suggested a human form.  My whole body connected to this piece as my eyes danced over the 3D surfaces.

 

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Pascale Parrein, Anatomie subjective III, Etching, 69 x 50 cm, 2011. Photo: Guy Langevin.

 

I was also drawn to the Anatomie subjectives series of etchings by Pascale Parein, from France.  Inspired by old encyclopedia illustrations she depicts parts of the body and internal organs filtered through her own emotional lens. The heart, the womb, the lungs become metaphors for sentiments and states of being.

 

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Marie Boralevi, Camisole amoureuse, etching, aquatint, soft ground, dry point, 61 x 48.5 cm. 2012. Photo: Guy Langevin.

 

French artist Marie Boralevi draws us into her fantastical world where people and animals interact and converge in a theatre of the absurd.  Camisole Amoureuse is sublime.

 

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Eric Pina, Trois présences, aquatint, etching, 40 x 30 cm, 2012. Photo : Guy Langevin.

 

The etchings and aquatints of German artist Eric Pina are wonderful examples of how the language of the medium enhances narrative content.  The scratches and stains created by the acid biting into metal plate go a long way to creating the atmosphere surrounding his beautifully executed figures.  The juxtaposition of characters suggests many possible stories.

 

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Liena Bondare, Cycle Empty Room V, Silkscreen, 46 x 68 cm, 2008. Photo: Liena Bondare.

 

Liena Bondare, a young artist from Lithouania, examines the relationship between memory and place in her Empty Room series of silkscreens.  She depicts empty, classrooms, motel rooms, offices and apartments while conveying the spirits and energies of their secret memories.  Her sketchy lines, subtle layering of pale colors create a contemplative effect.

 

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François Morelli, Grosse tête cintrée II, Relief print, 185.5 x 84 cm, 2012. Photo: Didier Morelli.

 

The Grosse tête cintrée seires of large relief prints by Quebec artist, François Morelli, is noteworthy for its powerful and intricate graphic treatment. The mask-like heads, suspended from the ceiling, exude a spiritual presence.

 

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Janne Laine, Forgotten Journey III, Heliogravure, aquatint, 64 x 85 cm, 2011. Photo: Guy Langevin.

 

The Forgotten Journey series of heliogravures and aquatints by Finnish artist, Janne Laine, are significant for the dreamlike atmosphere of her minimalist landscapes.  They are imbued with a soft haze of memories, familiar yet distant and fleeting.

Driving home to Montreal at the end of the forever sunny afternoon, my head was ablaze with a potpourri of prints. I felt a connection to printmakers from around the world.  I reflected on how we have converging sensitivities and preoccupations and how the age old medium of printmaking creates an affinity between us.  The BIECTR  is a major manifestation of our Global Art Village and a must-see for print lovers, from near or far.

BIECTR runs through September 8, 2013. Free guided tours are available for groups of five or more, by calling 819-370-1117.  On August 14 after sundown at Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville there will be a projection of films on printmaking.  Belgian artist Michel Barzin will present his two short films.  A documentary film will also be featured.

 

Talleen Hacikyan

Special thanks to Jo Ann Lanneville et Élisabeth Mathieu for their collaboration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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