Friday , January 15 2021

Louis-Pierre Bougie, the genius of intaglio, is no longer

The engraver, designer, illustrator, painter, curator and founding member of the Circular Workshop, Louis-Pierre Bougie, died last Sunday in Montreal from pneumonia.

Weakened, the artist had suffered for several years from Steinert’s disease, a genetic and hereditary disorder which attacks muscles very slowly, and he was in his third pneumonia in a year.

“Her departure is overwhelming,” says Geneviève Bougie, her niece and faithful representative. I don’t quite realize it yet, but we could see it coming. Yet last week he was doing relatively well. He was even starting to regain his sense of humor. I was hoping he would get through the winter to enjoy the spring a little. The context of the pandemic disrupted many things, especially his meetings with his many friends. “

Born in 1946, Louis-Pierre Bougie was a genius of intaglio, this engraving technique which consists in drawing by engraving in a sheet of metal. He had explored all of its processes, whether it was mezzotint, burin, aquatint or etching. He had studied at the Montreal School of Fine Arts from 1967 to 1970, at the Vancouver Art School and at the Montreal Graphic Research Workshop. From 1974 to 1976, he had gained experience at the Arachel and Graff workshops, in Montreal, then in Paris, at Lacourière-Frélaut, the almost century-old engraving workshop, and at Champfleury, but also at the New Crane Studio, in London, and at the Free Studio Lobzowska in Krakow, between 1979 and 1981.

The engraver has exhibited extensively abroad (in Germany, Spain, United States, France, Hong Kong, Sweden and Switzerland), in museums (such as at the Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul in 2014), at the Trois-Rivières Print Biennale and in large galleries, such as Graff, Lacerte and Eric Devlin, but also at the 1700 La Poste art center where he was the first artist to occupy the space, in 2013 , which had propelled him into a new phase of his career.

“I really liked his art,” says Isabelle de Melvius, director and founder of 1700 La Poste. He had solid judgment and a poetic world. He was very secretive, but it was fascinating to be able to enter his world. He told a little about his life in a humble and discreet way. He lived his work fully. We felt an inner peace in his work. “

Louis-Pierre Bougie had an incredible talent, that of translating the human condition with his small steel instruments, creating strong and sensitive works. A unique, inimitable dreamlike universe, developed at the beginning from the European tradition of printmaking.


    The red angel, one of the works in Louis-Pierre Bougie’s exhibition at the Maison de la culture Claude-Léveillé, in Montreal in 2019.

  • Dormir sans pule, a work by Louis-Pierre Bougie exhibited in 2019.


    Sleep without a pill, a work by Louis-Pierre Bougie exhibited in 2019.

  • View of the Louis-Pierre Bougie exhibition at the Maison de la culture Claude-Léveillé, in October 2019.


    View of the Louis-Pierre Bougie exhibition at the Maison de la culture Claude-Léveillé, in October 2019.

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He was also the engraver of gravity. He was inventing strange tales with transformations, complex metamorphoses that involved plants, objects, animals and the outlines of evanescent figures, with often truncated bodies. Nightmares, wars, dramas, the very interior and delicate works of Bougie were often not relaxing. But with its faded blues, beiges and blacks, it awakened us to the tragedies of life.

His works sometimes had the appearance of a symphony of bodies and shapes in suspension, reminiscent of paintings by Sandro Boticelli, his favorite painter. When we spoke to him of his abundant imagination which allowed him to evacuate his anxieties, of his creations speaking of existence, of combat, of suffering, the revealer of conscience that he was replied: “I am quite a good living, but” questioning ”. My neurologist told me I was sad. I told him it was none of his business! “

The master engraver has also produced around ten artist’s books for which he won prizes, in particular the first prize at the National Artist’s Book Competition in 1983 for The prince without laughing, which included 12 etchings and a poem by Michael La Chance. He also did illustrations, like the front page of the magazine Life of the arts dedicated to the passage of the year 2000 or the cover of Five seasons Harmonium, in 1975, Serge Fiori then being his neighbor, in Outremont.

Louis-Pierre Bougie has never won the Paul-Émile Borduas award or that of the Governor General. The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Monique and Robert Parizeau Foundation, however, awarded him the 2005 Monique and Robert Parizeau Foundation Prize.

You can admire the master engraver’s works in the most important private and public collections in Canada, France and the United States, notably the MNBAQ, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the National Library of Canada (Ottawa), National Library and Archives of Quebec, the National Library of Paris, the University of Greensboro Library (in the United States), the New York Public Library, Loto-Québec, the Caisses populaires Desjardins and the National Bank of Canada. The newspaper The diplomatic world also sometimes reproduced his engravings to illustrate articles.

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