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Cousineau is one of Canada’s well known French Canadian artists. He exhibited his work regularly since the mid seventies. The most familiar objects, if presented in a particular way and examined with fresh eyes, often seem to possess an altered significance, to be charged with new meaning. This simple fact, which reflects the dynamics inherent to all creative endeavour, takes on a singular force and heightened relief in the work of Sylvain P. Cousineau. This artistic practice evolving steadily over a period of more than forty years, is rich and varied (photographs, paintings, assemblages), and expressed in a tone and spirit of remarkable consistency., Cousineau’s essentially figurative painting focused initially on four apparently innocuous themes or motifs – a ship, a vase of flowers, a teapot and a birthday cake – that the artist reworked over the years from different perspectives and according to different moods. The use of certain formal devices, also recurrent and frequently highly connotative (drips, brushstrokes, dots of colour), imbues the work with a powerfully reflective dimension, while also endowing it with a marked emotional charge. In an approach that is both profound and playful, and in a tone marked by certain humour, Cousineau’s explorations centre primarily on the actual creation of art and, its relations with the world. Broad and all-encompassing, this approach nevertheless avoids orthodoxy and the rigid self-referentiality that modernity has sometimes imposed on the work of art (art about art). While different, however, his subjects serve in some sense as substitutes for or equivalents of the four themes listed above, “the ship moving towards the moon being the same thing as a dog moving towards its bone.”1 Although easily recognizable and accessible to all, the ideas and objects represented in Cousineau’s painting nevertheless carry multiple meanings. We need only think, for example, of the four elements (water, fire, earth and air) – considered in ancient times as the basic components of all things… For instance, all the objects serve as the container of source of another body: smoke comes out of the ship’s funnel; gifts emerge from the birthday cake; flowers seem to burst forth from the vase; and steam escapes from the spout of the teapot. These images, which evoke the idea of transformation, are not unrelated to that other phenomenon of transformation ( of an object or a viewpoint) that constitutes artistic creation; they thus play a metaphorical role in relation to the conditions and concerns of this practice.

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