Tu n’es qu’une étoile

Text by Jaynus O’Donnel

In the body of work Tu n’es qu’une étoile , Simon Bilodeau combines monochrome, what he terms “no colour”, painting and sculpture to create a dramatized representation of reality. In this skewed but accessible vision, Bilodeau questions the role and status of the artist in relation to art consumers (viewers) and traditional spaces for viewing art (exhibition spaces). References to construction/destruction and incomplete or degenerating architectural spaces indicate the instability of metaphorical structures such as authenticity and visual understanding. This commentary points to the fragile and subjective quality of meaning formation when considering visual symbols, including artwork and the physical spaces where artwork is situated. Minimalistic tendencies such as uniformity of colour and form edge into this milieu and are present in some pieces. However, combined with the inclusion of gestural tactics in Bilodeau’s work, these tendencies become peripheral and seem not to indicate a straightforward affinity with Minimalism.

However, it is partly this minimal and sparse physical appearance that enables the viewer to initially become engaged in activities of mental completion and construction. This viewer-dependent interaction (or participation) creates a more level relationship between the artist and viewer; the reinstitution of the viewer’s choice through active intellectual involvement and meaning construction encourages a more personal interaction with the work. In this self-reflexive yet inclusive strategy, Bilodeau develops a concern with diluting the authority of the artist. And in doing so, creates multiple and layered meanings through diverse viewer involvement.

The introduction of this autonomy succeeds in combating notions of art-stardom and acknowledges the importance of viewer interaction in the completion of artworks. The creation of art becomes something more than a solitary venture and the artwork seems tentatively placed in time and space, becoming ever altered by its surroundings. This notion places artwork not only in temporally and spatially variable atmospheres, but also in the most literal of social contexts. The art interacts, it is interacted with and it is altered by opinions, judgments and actions of the spaces and people around it. Minimalism has often, and arguably falsely, been criticized for its coldness and inaccessibility. And while there are elements of – and even historically relevant homages to – Minimalism in Tu n’es qu’une étoile, Bilodeau successfully avoids the criticisms associated with the movement through openly implanting entry points and social components into the austere landscape of his painting and sculpture practice.