Exhibition dates: February 11 – March 18
Vernissage: February 15, 1-3 p.m.
AOE Gallery, Shenkman Arts Centre, 245 Centrum Boulevard, Ottawa, ON K1E 0A1, *Free parking
During a season of stark trees and snowy landscapes, the AOE Gallery is proud to host Ripe with Colour, an exhibition by visual artist Virginia Dupuis full of natural life on display from February 11 until March 18. Depicting berries of all kinds, Virginia uses oil painting techniques when creating natural representations of the small fruits during their process of ripening. These large and small scale paintings consider the subtle colour variations that naturally occur during the fruits’ growth. Virginia considers themes of preservation, endurance, and the beauty found in the ordinary, and she discusses these ideas and how they are approached in her artwork.
Could you tell me a bit about your idea behind this exhibition, ‘Ripe with Colour,’ any themes you were trying to explore? Is this a continuing series?
My intention was to look at something very ordinary that may be overlooked and call attention to its significance by painting my impression of its endurance and beauty. Aesthetics is very important to my painting.
This current exhibit is almost a series of series; four bodies of work, all come together around the common theme.
I think I will always paint berries; there may be breaks in between, but I see a lot more berries “on the horizon”.
The large scale of some of these paintings reveals a visual contrast between the small-scale of the various berries represented – could you describe your process behind choosing to work on a larger scale? What do you think this reveals about the subject matter?
I treat everything I paint like a still life – I want to slow it down and show its beauty and reveal something of its creation, growth and endurance.
Therefore, the paintings present the berries larger than life, calling attention to them as a crop, perhaps revealing scars of their growth cycle in nature, suggestive of their resilience, – and last, but not least, their beauty brought to the forefront. In some of the smaller pieces aesthetics may figure more predominantly with more of a pictorial feel.
Describe why you chose the title ‘Ripe with Colour’ for this series of paintings? Are lively colours an essential part of your painting process?
The word “ripe” suggests fully developed and mature, and the idea of having persevered and survived. Of course, many paintings show the unripened and ripening berries as well, and all the excitement of this colour palette in nature.
There are some lively colours, but in many cases the paintings are of more subtle naturalism, depending on the setting and light a different glow or feeling may be present. I do take colour seriously and consider it my secret power; I had the expert colourist, Lucia De Marinis as my mentor, in colour theory, and consequently strive for a more sophisticated use of colour contrasts than the often-used contrast of, for example, – complementarity.
Pattern and repetition seem to be important qualities in this series of paintings, are these principles you focus on when creating these artworks?
Certainly pattern, rhythm and repetition are part of what attract me to a subject, and of course – colour. Funny, though, pattern and rhythm become almost inherent, since my process is based on the interaction of colour and the integration of abstraction within the representational. So when I look at shapes and combining shapes, and colour interaction being so very important to me, – what goes onto the canvas in terms of pattern, and repetition, seem to be almost self-generating.
What is your favourite part about the medium of oil painting? Particular techniques, processes, or materials?
Oil paint suits me because of the way I paint, and have been described as a tactile painter. I work in layers, from a loose under-painting, to blocking out major shapes and working out colour harmony, through several layers. The last pass is looking for magic – which usually occurs where edges meet. Close observation may suggest a weird colour or an exaggerated highlight as the finishing touch. Painting in oil allows me to slow the painting down for careful observation and interpretation.
I used to share a studio which was fun but I am much more productive when I work alone with no distractions of any kind, so my studio is now my basement. Certain alternating days of the week are designated painting days; no one is permitted in my studio then !
I enjoy nature and take a lot of photos; my use of photos is a somewhat subtractive process. I start by following the photos at first, then taking less and less from them, and near the end of the process, responding to the needs of the painting.
Where do you find your artistic inspirations? Are there any artist references, places, or materials that you are always drawn back to?
I respect perseverance, patience and resilience and am drawn to a subject by its beauty, colour, and rhythm. There are 3 main subjects that I return to – berries obviously, the patience of women’s crafts, and lily pads or frogs. I visit Mer Bleue Bog and Petrie Island frequently for inspiration.
What would you like the visitors of the AOE Gallery to take away from your exhibition?
I paint that which has meaning to me, and which I find beautiful. I would like the visitors to see the beauty in the ordinary.
Based in Ottawa, Virginia Dupuis has been actively exhibiting professionally for a number of years. A graduate of the Fine Arts Diploma Program at the Ottawa School of Art, she continues to refine her painting techniques through the tool of keen observation. Her solo exhibition at the AOE Gallery, ‘Ripe with Colour,’ brings together her series of berries and gives the viewer a glimpse of spring freshness during the colder Ottawa months. The AOE Gallery invites the public to meet Virginia Dupuis at the upcoming Vernissage on February 15, between 1-3 p.m.
Annie has been involved with AOE Arts Council as a Programs Assistant and now as a the youth representative on the Board of Directors. She has developed a passion for connecting and contributing to the arts community . Her involvement with the AOE Gallery has given her the opportunity to connect with artists directly, and glean their interesting inspirations, influences, and intentions that she shares as a contributor to Accolade. Currently studying Fine Arts at the University of Ottawa, Annie is a practicing photo-based artist with an interest in analog processes. As an artist, she approaches each project knowledgeably, with creativity, and an openness to the variety of what the Ottawa arts scene has to offer.