A Splash Of Colour - 07.19.2007 - Bangkok Post

Camilla Russell

Many artistic people are inspired either by their environment, community or the visceral emotions that centre around those two dynamics. However, a few individuals are inspired by all of the above. Canadian artist Rene Lemay's paintings revel in this chaotic mixture of feelings and intellectual discourse. 

"Every artist is different, and I'm different too. When people like a certain painting, it's always about a feeling," he explained. "However, when you look at other artists' paintings, and see their exhibitions, often you'll find something interesting. But for me I like to be closed [away from these influences], because I don't want to see too many paintings or books. I want to keep my own style." Lemay is now showing his new collection of paintings in an exhibition entitled "Canadienne Fling: Such Outrageous Color Work!", at the Sofitel Silom, until August 4. From August 7 to 20, the exhibition will be at Carpediem Galleries, on Soi Ruam Rudi. The personal style the 72-year-old artist spoke of is easily visible through his use of a spatula to fiercely apply paint to the canvas. He acknowledged that he finds brushes too flimsy a tool to capture his emotions. "I paint with a spatula, because it makes the colours different. Red becomes more red. Everyone tells me that this let me have a style that is different," he commented. "However, for those people who know my style very well, I don't have to sign my paintings anymore. This is normal in Canada." Lemay's choice to dramatise each painting with bold colours and harsh, jagged streaks of paint is evident in each piece. Ultimately these passionate and primal renditions of his memories are his signature style. "I love colour, because it is beautiful. Last year I made a painting of a woman against the sun, so I had lots of yellow and black in the piece. I sketched first before I made the painting," he said. "I like to paint people in movement, especially ladies." He is influenced by his surroundings and has lived in self-imposed exiled in Asia for the past 10 years. "I very much like Vietnam, because the artists there are very different. Here in Thailand it's very different as well. But for contemporary art, I think that the Vietnamese people reach me more. I have been in Thailand since 1998, and since I first came I've never stopped visiting Asia." Lemay now lives in Chiang Rai, where he has a studio.

"It takes me 20 years to finish one painting! People always ask me how long it takes to finish a painting, and my reply is always 20 years or so, because that is how much experience is needed in the end," he said with a laugh. "The first painting I did was of the countryside, and than my style slowly changed. I like to paint movement, and I must paint fast to capture the image, so it ends up semi-abstract sometimes. I remember that I had an exhibition in Montreal and people were looking at a painting of a musician. Each person saw something different. I don't know why!" Regarding the future, and its influence on his work, Lemay confessed that he is still deciding on which direction he wants to expand into. "In the future I want to try something with plastic and varnish. I will make my own formula," he explained. "I don't know yet, but I think that it will be something interesting." Lemay acknowledged that he may wish to experiment with texture and chemical forms in the near future. He presently uses acrylic and oil-based paint in his artwork. However the future holds no influence over peoples' opinions of his artwork, and this is a quality that Lemay continuously finds refreshing. "When people see my paintings, I know that I did something different," he said referring to the audiences' reaction to the subjects captured on the canvas.

"When my paintings are finished, I no longer own them.  If people see something they like, then I’m very happy. I think that it’s better this way in the end» Canadienne Fling, Such Outrageous Color works!’ is now at the Sofitel Silom, Bangkok. For more information, call the Hotel on 02-238-1991. The exhibition moves to Carpediem Galleries, Soi Ruam Rudi, on August 7. It runs there till August 20.