Peinture Morte: Inside the Mind of Rosalie Gamache

By Alara Dileklen

The art studio was filled with light when I walked in. Within moments, I faced a simple studio with canvases lining the wall. Warmth radiated from the surroundings as Rosalie greeted me with a kind welcome and big smile. As I was led into the studio, my eyes were drawn to the breathtaking paintings across the room. I couldn’t wait to learn about the story behind this spectacular series of white paintings across from me.

As we sat down and started the interview, Rosalie Gamache’s eyes sparkled when she talked about art. She was exposed to art and design from a young age by her mother who was a professional graphic designer. She began painting in her teenage years, through visual art and art history classes. These artistic outlets made the whole high school experience much smoother, contrary to what her classmates and teachers expected  from her. It was no surprise that she chose to attend CÉGEP du Vieux Montreal, where she could focus on improving her art skills. As an exceptionally successful student in Science and Math in high school, some people thought she was throwing away her “academic” skills. However, Rosalie knew that her true passion and talent lay within the arts. 

Mains blanches, 2021, oil on cotton mounted on wood panel, 24“x 16"

She likes to push her own limits, as well as exceed the limits of her art. Even though working with oil paint was considered to be outdated and even sometimes dangerous in her school, she was adamant to  prove that was not the case. Her inspiration from the classical painting techniques and styles of the Renaissance, such as oil painting and still life, led her to Florence to receive professional Classical art training at Florence Classical Art Academy. Working two jobs to be able to support herself financially before her departure built Gamache’s resilience and drive to improve her artistic skills. Her interest in portraiture and human posture flourished in Italy through her classes in anatomy. After a year immersed in Florentine painting, she decided to find her path in Quebec City. When I asked her  why she decided on Quebec City, she answered with a blush creeping up on her cheeks: “Love!”. The young love that initially took her there led her to  an unexpected yet wonderful journey with her mentor, Denis Jacques. Their love for art paved the way for an incredible journey of learning, which slowly forged Rosalie’s artistic persona.  

Nature morte blanche V, 2021, oil on cotton mounted on wood panel, 32“x 32"

During her time in Quebec, she also attended Laval University for Visual Arts education, in which she realized there was an anxiety surrounding the future of painting. She recalled: “They told me the painting was dead because there is nothing interesting to paint anymore. That stuck with me. I refused to believe that.” Determined to prove there is much more to painting than the end result, she decided to create a hybrid of Abstract and  Realism. “I was not considered classical enough for the Fine Art Academy in Florence and not conceptual enough for Laval University in Quebec.” So, what did she do? She created her own style, which is apparent in all her work, especially in the Peintures Blanches. “If there is nothing to paint anymore, then I decided I would paint the paint”, and that is how her Abstract Realism series started.  By taking everyday objects like vases, branches, cups and even fruits, and covering them with a  thick layer of white plaster, she slowly changes their original shape and created almost an abstract sculpture. Later, she would place the objects in either an open space or cardboard and would paint them as exactly as they seem. Reflecting all the peculiarity and abstraction of transformed objects, she creates a realistic painting as she reflects what she sees directly to the canvas. For a stranger to her art,  like myself, her paintings seem to be beautiful abstract paintings. Yet, her admiration for realism combined with her contemporary approach to classical arts results in wonderfully executed artworks.

Peinture morte, 2016, oil on coton mounted on wood panel, 16“x 20"

Her first work for the series was Peinture Morte, a colorful realist painting of abstract objects. The name of the painting came from  Rosalie’s appreciation of the Nature Morte genre. She elaborated; “As Nature Morte means dead nature in French, I wanted to make a word play there and rethink the conceptual approach which said the painting was dead. So, I named the piece as ‘dead painting’.” Her palette included a generous amount of 17 colors additional to shades of these colors. She said, “It was pretty,  but I have to admit it would make you dizzy after some time”. Thus, Rosalie decided she could try the same technique with a white palette. Hanging across me during the interview, blue and grey shading on the white painting a deep sense of serenity. Rosalie’s still life portraits of abstracted objects are one-of-a-kind works created by an ambitious  and talented artist. They are exquisitely detailed which makes the viewer  reach out to the canvas and touch these lentous objects. Her realist approach to depicting these abstracted objects ensures this trompe l’oeil. This effect was further emphasized by her brush stroke techniques, as looking at the paintings closely, I hardly saw any brush strokes on the surface.  

4. Marie-Andrée Ouimet / Mao, 2019, oil on intertined polyester paper mounted on wood panel, 36" x 36"

When I asked her about whether she thinks there is a style she wants to be known for, she  answered confidently: “No, I don’t think I will stick with any of my series and say I will be doing  only this. I did bunch of other styles and genres, from cutting the canvas to dripping paint on  objects, and from human portraiture to still life.” She then showed me her past work from her  website, where she worked with people from LGBTQI community in order to show different sides  of their colorful personalities. Using the notion of dual portraiture as a start point, she worked with  her sitters to understand how they would like to be perceived by society as well as how they see  themselves. These fun yet equally intimate portraits are proof of her ability to relate herself with  the contemporary world while using old techniques. Looking at the colorful, ornamented and  realistic portraits, it became clear to me that these were works of two different Rosalies. She was  able to express her different artistic skills and curiosities through different series she created.

Max Mckenzie / L’Arlequin II, 2019, oil on the two sides of a polyester paper mounted on wood panel, 16" x 12"

Both in her abstracted still life and dual portraiture series, Rosalie aims to stand against accepting the so-called “death” of painting. Determined to show there is still so much to paint about, she combined Abstract and Realist styles in order to create a hybrid painting. By doing so, she was able to evoke mixed yet unique feelings in the viewers. As a result of an inspiring path and a colorful imagination, her art for sure will be appreciated by art lovers. Currently exhibiting her artworks in Gallery Cache Studio, she is also active in her instagram page as well as her own website. I would highly recommend following her work through these channels if you are interested in learning more about this amazingly talented Montrealaise artist. 

You can find more of Rosalie Gamache's work on her website and Instagram.

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