The Yellow Box Gallery will feature eight works by New Brunswick artist Herménégilde Chiasson in the exhibit “Identities,” a collection of prints he created from altering advertisements and magazine covers during his studies in Paris in the 1970s. The exhibit will be launched Thursday, Nov. 24 with a lecture by Chiasson at 4:00 pm in Brian Mulroney Hall Room 101 followed by the exhibit opening at 5 pm in the Yellow Box Gallery in McCain Hall.
The Yellow Box Gallery will feature eight works by New Brunswick artist Herménégilde Chiasson in the exhibit “Identities,” a collection of prints he created from altering advertisements and magazine covers during his studies in Paris in the 1980s.

The exhibit will be launched Thursday, Nov. 24 with a lecture by Chiasson at 4:00 pm in McCain Hall Room 101 followed by the exhibit opening at 5 pm in the Yellow Box Gallery in McCain Hall.

“This work is part of my lifetime interest in print making, starting with intaglio and moving into silkscreen and now wood block cutting,” Chiasson says. “It is also part of my conceptual activity which lasted for quite a long time until I got interested in the object again. There is not much left from that period of mine outside of a few photographs. This is why these images are both a nostalgic memento of my formative years and a testimony to my belief that art needs a solid support to survive time.”

Art confronted to its excesses

Identity is central in much of Chiasson’s work and is the main feature of the exhibit through self-portraits in each piece. He uses sociological art which is a theory where art was confronted to its excesses. Without the use of computers or editing software, Chiasson created these “fake documents” to make them look as authentic as the originals.

“In the beginning, these images were meant to replace the originals in their quest to impose themselves as a form of hijacked art. The project in that sense was quite ambitious and I didn’t have enough time to bring it to its conclusion,” he says.

“Originally the project contained 10 works but I had to stop at 8. The last one was an obituary in which my fictitious character would pass away. Famous, I would have been eulogized by famous artists with which I had my picture taken. Looking at them now, I realize that they stand much more as self-portraits than as a critic of the megalomania and ego that so often operates within the art world.”

"Distraction for fame is always a distraction"

“Being a student at the beginning of my activity as an artist, the idea of fame always looms over the work that you produce, wondering if this measures with what you would like to do. This idea was instrumental in freeing me from that distraction for fame is always a distraction, it takes time away from you and time for an artist is always a most precious possession.”

Chiasson served as Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick from 2003 to 2009. He lives in Grand Barachois and is a professor of art history at the Université de Moncton. He earned degrees from the Université de Moncton, Mount Allison University, the State University of New York and the Sorbonne. He earned a diploma from the École Nationale Supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris, where he created these works, and he also holds a doctorate from the Sorbonne. 

Chiasson has worked as researcher, author, journalist and producer for Radio-Canada, and film director. He has published more than 25 books including Mourir à Scoudouc and Conversations which won the Governor General Award for Poetry in 1999. He’s written 30 plays including Cap-Enragé, La Vie est un rêve (Lifedream) and Aliénor, and he has directed 15 films.

He has received numerous grants, awards and prizes for his work as an artist and his work with the Acadian community. Among them the French Government has made him Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the Quebec Government has received him in the Ordre des Francophones d’Amérique and more recently he was made Officer of the Order of Canada. Universities of Moncton, Mount Allison, Laurentian and McGill have granted him Honour Doctorates in Literature and he has twice been awarded the Prix France-Acadie.