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Bastien Martel

Biography

One of the biggest challenges was fighting the perceived undesirability of being an artist. Although art was valued in my home, there were no discussions around art or artists in my entourage. No one to show me the way. It took a long-convoluted road to get to the point of viewing visual arts as a positive worthwhile occupation. From business school, furniture design and being part of a caring profession, I always seemed to be circling around my true path. No matter what I pursued, as early as I can remember, the desire to create and continue the visual conversation always pulled at me. It was in 2003, after years of taking art courses, reading about art and viewing art all over the world that I embraced my destiny and took a pause to pursue my passion for sculpture and metal work. It was at The Saidye Bronfman School of Fine Arts that I met the two people that most influenced that decision. Jean-Louis Émond Head of the Sculpture Department and Sculpture Instructor France Andrée Sevillano, both were the best of mentors and helped me set a course in the trilling adventure of visual arts. With art studies in Montréal, Toronto and Honolulu, being elected member of Sculptors Society of Canada, private commissions in Montréal, Toronto and Ottawa, gallery representation with works in Europe and North America, multiple group and solo shows, receiving exhibition grants, interviews in print, radio and television, and forthcoming solo exhibitions in Ottawa in 2022. It has been a great honor to have my work validated by peers and art collectors. After over 20 years of art practice, I can say the challenge has been overcome and that I am truly excited at what the future will hold.

Artistic approach

In recent years I have been exploring in 3 dimensions the breakthroughs achieved by the modernist painters of the 20th century using contemporary methods of welded steel. My work continues in the tradition of the objets d’art. I make my sculptures out of steel which gives me the ability to create lightness and airiness. I cut steel into various shapes and assemble the sculptures like a puzzle onto clay forms then I weld the pieces together. I use a grinder to continue to dig, shape and smooth the surface. The sculpture is completed once it is brushed and painted. With recently completed series of figurative, portrait and surrealist sculpture, exploring themes of loneliness and isolation. Abstraction was the next step in my pictorial explorations. I was looking for a quick creative release for my feelings of anxiety and confusion created by our imposed confinement. I was able to explore these emotional states using my technique of clay work and welded steel pieces. Between chaos and control, the variously shaped metal pieces were dropped or thrown onto the clay surface and welded together, resulting in gesturally expressive abstract sculptures.

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