In September a new show opens at Portico Gallery, downtown Squamish, introducing a new show of 21 paintings by internationally recognized Yukon artist Halin de Repentigny. It has caused a buzz amongst local artists, art appreciators and collectors alike. A good number of art lovers turned out on September 19 for the artists reception. Halin was gracious, friendly and spent time guiding his guests around the gallery answering questions and explaining his process. He is an 'artists artist', meaning he is recognized by other artists as well as collectors for his talent and his artistic integrity.
Halin de Repentigny has been painting for over 40 years, his maturity and confidence is evident in this exhibition. Halin's new paintings, many of which have been produced specially for this show at Portico, are bold and energetic in their execution.
Although he works predominantly with a palette knife in these pieces, there is no sign of overworking. His textures are sophisticated and luxurious with a jewel like quality; the effect is that of layered glass on canvas. There is a tension and drama through his use of high tonal contrasts further accentuating the vibrancy of colour.
"It's the oil paint" he explained. He uses traditional mineral based oil paints. Pigment particles from minerals such as lapiz, malachite and pyrite are larger and ground coarser than in modern synthetic pigments. They do not dissolve into the paint binder like modern finely ground pigments so they handle differently and appear more translucent under natural light. It's an expensive process making these paintings.
I'm getting older and my work is getting more adventurous. I feel the freedom to express myself in several different styles, he said
Originally from Montreal, Halin has been an outdoorsman most of his adolescent and adult life. Every year he would take his family into the Northern Canadian wilderness for months at a time. He would build a cabin for them to live in and provided their food through hunting and trapping. He made hundreds of drawings during those months which he would later use as reference for his large paintings. These days he says he prefers to spend all his time painting. He lives in Dawson City in the Yukon and in Patagonia, Argentina.
As I travel and document South America I'm finding new colours and forms, he says
Towards the end of the evening, Portico owner Linda Bachman opened a bid to auction an original drawing which Halin had made earlier in the evening. It depicted one of the trapper cabins he had built on one of his wilderness trips and a food cache hut built on tall stilts. This was a bit of true Canadiana which I coveted so I joined in the bidding. The drawing was eventually sold to Irene Kavanagh and her husband, who have recently moved to Squamish.
The show at Portico Gallery will be on display through the Winter and into Spring of 2013. It's free to enter and definitely worth a visit. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday 11am - 6pm.
This post was published in the 1st printed edition of the Squamish Reporter, Sept 28, 2012. Look out for it every other Friday at select venues around Squamish!