Michel Daigneault is one of a generation of new abstracts painters that came after Abstract Painting. For those earlier painters, it seemed that everything had been said and done in abstraction, but Daigneault’s paintings are revealing new pictorial possibilities. Although his paintings are clearly non-figurative, they constantly play with the concept, colours, forms and space of figuration. These elements incite the viewer to read the painting through analogy. Gaston Saint-Pierre describes this aspect of Daigneault’s work. “ Michel Daigneault’s painting is governed by interference, convergence and the mutability of systems and visual styles. In his painting, we are not in the field of illusion, but in the field of allusion”.
What makes Daigneault’s paintings unique is his ability to be at one and the same time seductive, visionary and ambiguous yet resistant to the perils of painterly pathos. The spectator confronted by the constant mutation of images gets drawn like a child, into exploring each and every detail. According to Serge Tisseron, this way of approaching an image “…allows the viewer not only to apprehend an image but certainly to enter and inhabit it”. These paintings allow us to create associations, which in turn transform our perception of the various elements of the paintings.
In this exhibition The Other Side of Abstraction the artist orchestrates with even greater intensity a mutable space in order to blur the lines dividing the usually exclusive categories of figuration and abstraction. In these new paintings, the artist incites the viewer to ask himself what he sees, by drawing him into a space where abstraction embraces recognizable reality. This strategy of provoking a slip and slide between two different types of representation offers the viewer a poly-semantic exploration of abstraction, related more to the models of language studies such as rhetoric and semiology than to the optical exploration of the Modernists.
Michel Daigneault was born in Montreal, where he completed a B.A. in Fines Arts at Concordia University and M. A. in Art History at the Université de Montréal. He has exhibited in a number of solo and group shows across Canada, in the United States and France. His work is represented in many public collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Musée de Joliette and the Canada Council Art Bank. As a professor, Daigneault joined York University’s Visual Arts Department in 2002. His previous teaching appointments were at Ohio State University; Columbus, Nova Scotia School of Art and Design, Halifax; Emily Carr School of Art and Design; Vancouver; and the University of Lethbridge; Alberta. He has also taught at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Quebec and École nationale d’art de Cergy Pontoise in France.