A chance to witness an artist’s evolution

The Singularity of Human Nature by Dominic Besner will be at Gallery MX until Dec. 1

A tension lies between taking comfort in the static and seeking the promise in growth. Once others have come to a conclusion about who you are, what you represent and what your process is, evolving or growing outwards requires introspection and the result can often be met with resistance. Dominic Besner—an internationally recognized Ontario-born artist who works out of Montreal—is a man that has recently evolved while still maintaining his artistic signature.

Photo by Lydia Anderson.
Photo by Lydia Anderson.

He just finished a two-year period of reflection that was used to grow as an artist and study new techniques. Gallery MX on Viger Avenue is currently exhibiting his series The Singularity of Human Nature, 18 works that are the artist’s first productions following this time of reflection. This exhibit can be considered to be the reveal of an artistic evolution, the product of a reset and refresh chapter for the creator.

The exhibit invites you into the artist’s past through slightly abstract and aesthetically enticing paintings. In his explanation of the series in the exhibit’s pamphlet, Besner claims to “cast [his] gaze towards forgotten words and stories that [he] remembers from his childhood.”

Besner interacts with the canvas in a multitude of ways, including but not limited to the use of brushes, rags and his hands. This is what lends to the beautiful seamlessness of many of his strokes. Yet, in his two-year exploratory period, Besner studied the techniques of etching and lithography which also informed aspects of his new stylistic choices. The artist’s signature is still pronouncedly evident, yet he has taken steps in new directions with his composition, subject matter and colour palette.

Photo by Lydia Anderson.
Photo by Lydia Anderson.

“His older pieces [often featured] extremely dominant women. [They’d] lost their beauty, they’re aged women … but they have tremendous power,” said Michael Mensi, the owner and founder of Gallery MX. “Now he wants to work his colours differently [and] there’s this person that has a totally different story … You don’t feel any domination from these people.”

Mensi has been working with Besner since 1996 and he spoke with a passion for the artist’s work that was magnetic in and of itself. “I think he paints for himself. Dominic rarely paints for others—it’s his life, it’s his story, he doesn’t think of other people. If he did, then the first 10 years of his life as an artist he would not have painted the old, grouchy woman, she scared everybody,” said Mensi.

The exhibit’s pamphlet explains the pieces to be a series of portraits of characters that seem to be preoccupied with objects within their environment. The way that Besner paints the eyes of each of these characters is piercing in nearly every piece on display. No matter how busy, bright or faint the other aspects of the image, the eyes look out to the spectator with subtle but prominent strength. Faces are often blurred with an almost dreamlike quality, but have features that jut out discernibly enough to haunt you and capture your attention. Some faces almost seem to peak out of a misty curtain of composition, with the lips and eyes anchoring the object in clarity while the rest fades and blends with the remainder of the canvas.

“I think the overall feel that you get is the crazy world in which he navigates. He has his own world. He’s a very intelligent fellow,” said Mensi.

Not only is Besner’s work captivating and haunting but this exhibit as a whole represents the growth of an artist. His artistic talent is skillfully translated to each canvas in both his previous and more recent work, but there’s a dynamic development to be observed and appreciated. Besner’s strength in composition, style and execution as an artist make him a key contender in today’s art world.

This series can both be appreciated for its aesthetic value but also its testimony to progression as a creative artist.
The Singularity of Human Nature will run until Dec. 1 at Gallery MX. For more information on the artist visit dominicbesner.com.


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