Joan Dumouchel paints intuitive dreamscapes where the only certainty is the direct and open emotional connection with the subject of the painting. Joan’s misty, ethereal canvases are peopled by the captivating visages of theatrical performers, mimes, acrobats and circus artists. What is portrayed is the contemplative inner realm of personas more typically seen in dramatic states of extroversion. The atmospheric paintings highlight the individuality of each expression; a unique nuance is captured in each portrait and rendered as if in a dream. Joan’s color palette runs cool or warm, creating the tenor of the scene. Watery blues melt over silver leaf, veiling her subject in liquid color and generating a sense of serenity. Fiery earth tones on gold leaf impart a drama and allure, diffusing the effects of light as if through steam. “I painted from a live model for many years. Consequently, these individuals became vital to me, they are my focus…as I often say...I live with my subjects.”
Born and raised in Montreal, Joan Dumouchel demonstrated artistic tendencies at a young age. As a child, she constantly drew objects and figures. Drawing gave Dumouchel a creative outlet which allowed her to express her inner thoughts and emotions, a trait which can still be seen in her artwork today.
Joan’s early life as a painter was far more structural, and she painted in a hyper-realistic style. Her tight draftsmanship eventually became too constricting, but Joan’s precise scrutiny of facial expression and gesture lives at the heart of her current work. Joan’s daughter, who trained in the theatre, went on to practice circus arts and is an integral part of the realm Joan paints today. We glimpse the backstage world of the circus, the prelude to fantasy, a mysterious place poised at the edge of revelation in spotlights.
Over the last few years, the number of art lovers and collectors interested in her work has been growing constantly. Today, the artist is rapidly moving towards new summits; she is once again preparing to meet new challenges. Joan Dumouchel has succeeded in making known a style and a language belonging to her alone. She has created a metaphorical universe where the human face is the heart of the action, a world belonging to show business. Come in, ladies and gentlemen; the performance is about to begin!
When we look at her paintings, it is if we were hearing a loudspeaker spitting out its message inviting us to the circus, to the fair…You know, these events which roamed from village to village, from town to town, once a year, not so very long ago. Make room for dreams; make way for magic! Here are the street performers, the acrobats edging along the fine tightrope of human frailty on which tenderness, the meaning of life, and love are stretched. Magic in painting can be seen only under certain conditions, and there is no magic formula. Either it is there or it isn’t. If magic strongly colors Joan Dumouchel’s paintings, it is no mere coincidence. And it is not because of the themes dealt with by the artist in her work even it, to a certain extent, they are not completely unrelated. It is simply—and it is not so simple, believe me—that Dumouchel has all the assets required of a great artist. She paints with assurance, showing both knowledge and intuition of the surfaces she brings to life.
The theatricality of her characters is exalted by space, by the way in which they occupy the surface of the painting, which, under the impulse of the artist, becomes a real stage. The treatment completes and supports her approach, shown by her deft draftsmanship which boldly gives life to the nostalgic, silent characters, to these hearts full of hope which project the canvas under spotlights, certainly, but also—and this may seem contradictory—into a soft, velvety private space, as if we were looking into a magic box. The world thus created by Joan Dumouchel plunges the viewer into a timeless, dreamlike atmosphere echoing what is universal to every human and what, too often, remains deeply buried in the twists and turns of our being. There is hope for us simple mortals: Joan Dumouchel’s painting can finally help us escape the grayness of our existence!