“The strongest bond to unite all human beings…”
Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Gabriel Lavoie
Paul Zimmerman: Your are a figurative artist. How do you select your subjects?
Gabriel Lavoie: I like to say that everything in the universe can be inspirational. It all depends on the angle you look at and where the light comes from. I am quite intuitive and very attentive to the signs and symbols that surround me on a daily basis. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always looked at life in the form of a painting, it’s like an automatism in me. I trust my deep feelings that tell me when it’s the right choice. It also happens to me very often that my choices are determined as the painting develops.
PZ: How did you develop your interest in art?
GL: There were artists in my family, and from time to time they would come and spend a few days at the house. Quite naturally, with a lot of interests I started to want to be like them. I was very young and drawing became the center of my life. Since then I have never stopped my artistic journey.
PZ: What is the most difficult aspect of your work?
GL: For a few years now I would say that it is to keep the passion at its highest level. I’ve been sharing my life with art for over 50 years now and I know that if my work declines due to lack of interest, it will be difficult for me. I have a standard to respect and I feel that I could not paint knowing that my paintings no longer carry the essential.
PZ: What is your artistic process? How do you create your paintings?
GL: Most of the time, when I find myself in front of a blank canvas ready to embark on a new creation, several choices are presented to me: either I use inspirations from the past to make the basis of my painting; either I use images or photos that I can reproduce or transform, if I wish, during the execution of my work; or I completely surrender to my current creative intuition, in order to bring out new elements on the canvas. I also work from dreams, daydreams and intuitive color movements.
PZ: How do you know when the painting is finished?
GL: I would like to tell you that a painting is never really finished … but I know that at some point I have to let go to focus on the future painting. I tell myself that what I have to improve, if so, I will do it on the next canvas. By taking a step back from the painting to be finished and starting a new canvas, I give myself the opportunity to have another look at my unfinished canvas. This allows me a better evaluation on the final touch-ups.
PZ: Has your practice changed over time?
GL: Yes certainly, and above all, in large part, thanks to the experience acquired over the years. More movement, freedom and dexterity. The refinement is done with less perfectionism, but more effective in the result. I no longer work under pressure and the need for recognition is different. But what is, in my opinion, the biggest change, is surely inside me. There are changes that can only be explained by technique or physical results.
PZ: How would you describe yourself as an artist?
GL: First and foremost I am a person who has dedicated a large part of his life to a spiritual journey. I would never have been the artist I am today without this openness of heart. At first I only thought about perfectionism and I had a great need for recognition. I was more in my head and created works that lacked emotion. Today, if I trust what people say, I believe that I am able to say that my work touches the soul of people…. I am an artist whose mission is to do good around me.
PZ: Which artists have influenced you?
GL: I am thinking among others of Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, William Bouguereau, William Turner, Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Albert Bierstadt and many others.
PZ: What is art for you?
GL: The strongest bond to unite all human beings, without barriers or judgments. An extraordinary opening to infinity… a long road without end or border… free expression and self-expansion… unlimited transformation… discovery of new universes.
PZ: How is the pandemic influencing your work and your sensitivity?
GL:I must say that in my case the influence is much more positive than negative. In the beginning there was a lot of questioning and paintings created in the energy of the pandemic. There was an overwhelming need for brighter colors. Then the balance came on its own, and my most urgent need was to create positive works and share them. It’s like I realize the importance of art in our lives even more.