In FACES Michel Saint Hilaire has managed to experiment with a variety of technical approaches to painting. His playful diverse approach to creating this oeuvre is surprising and provocative. The portraits are both anchored in traditional techniques of representation, as well as grounded in a use of creating a digital representation of personalities. Attempting this new combination of representations, these portraits reveal a contemporary take on the human condition. On one hand they clearly describe personalities and characters known in Michel’s community and some of his artistic inspirations; on the other hand they present a technological interface that we are all very familiar with via new media communications; the internet, social media and the rapid interconnections of digital cell phone photography. The digitized, broken up and disintegrating over painting in his works clearly refers to a new type of face, a face that is digitally reproduced and is transpired via our rapidly transforming technological landscape. Certainly many of us meet, reconnect and come to know people via social media. These experimental works reveal that he is truly an innovative artist. Michel says these works showcase decay, continuous change, and an eternal altering as we pass through time. As Buddha says ….. the only thing constant is CHANGE itself. I believe the portraits are about the vulnerable of memory, the qualities of aging. If we understand these aspects of human existence then we can clearly appreciate the incredible importance of life itself.
One of his FACES is of Vivian Maier, a hidden master of photography that Michel greatly admires. Michel finds this woman’s disenfranchised and grotesque portraits “beautiful ” and seductive. I think his works have a similar vein, the digitalization and the decomposition in Michel’s paintings are indeed a type of exploration into what is his definition of beauty and seduction.
Associate Professor Kevin Kelly
The University of Manitoba