Mario Doucette

The Work : Hommage à Guy Duguay
The Subject : Guy Duguay

Guy Duguay

Guy Duguay was born in 1955 and died prematurely at the age of 41 in 1996. He completed his studies in visual art at the Université de Moncton in 1978. Later, he learned filmmaking with Robert Frank and Jean Pierre Lefebvre and sculpture under the tutelage of Henri Murail in France. He had an accomplished career as a visual artist, draughtsperson, and graphic designer.

Duguay was very involved in the Moncton arts community; over the course of his brief career, he was a founding member of the Aberdeen Cultural Centre, chair of Galerie Sans Nom and Atelier d’estampe imago, and member of Galerie 12. He represented New Brunswick at the very first Jeux de la Francophonie held in Morocco in 1989. A multidisciplinary artist, Duguay pushed the conventional boundaries of art with his conceptual and uninhibited artistic practice, which gave rise to controversy on numerous occasions.

Guy Duguay in front of one of hiw works (no date). Photo : GALRC archives

Hommage à Guy Duguay

Staying faithful to his historical approach, Mario Doucette uses a genre from French art history to pay tribute to Guy Duguay. When a renowned artist died in the nineteenth century, it was customary for a colleague to paint their portrait surrounded by other artistic personalities to demonstrate their admiration for the deceased master.

As Henri Fantin-Latour had done in homage to Delacroix in 1864, Doucette has composed a painting focused on one of Guy Duguay’s works, Pink Boys (est mal pas mal), a silk-screened photograph dating from 1996, the year of the artist’s death. Subversive by virtue of its homoerotic subject matter, this piece is representative of Duguay’s contribution, and was recognized at the time for having transgressed the artistic limits of Acadie.

Mario Doucette at work during a preparatory photo shoot for Hommage à Guy Duguay (2018). Photo : Catherine Arseneault

This painting-manifesto, anchored simultaneously in the past and present of Moncton's artistic community, testifies to the strength of the bonds that unite this community.

In 1996 those close to Duguay organized a wake at the Terra Nova Café in the Aberdeen Cultural Centre. Several artists came together over a glass of champagne to celebrate the life of their departed friend. Doucette was also present at this event and has chosen to paint the portrait of some of the guests: Jacques Arseneault, Paul Édouard Bourque, Herménégilde Chiasson, Lionel Cormier, Yvon Gallant, Gérald Leblanc (a deceased poet represented here by Méditations sur le désir, an art book created in collaboration with Guy Duguay in 1996), Gilles LeBlanc, Nancy Morin, Nancy Schofield, and Anne-Marie Sirois. Glasses in hand, these key figures in the development of the Aberdeen Cultural Centre proudly affirm their admiration for Duguay, whose influence is still felt today. This painting-manifesto, anchored simultaneously in the past and present of Moncton's artistic community, testifies to the strength of the bonds that unite this community.

Prepatory sketch for Hommage à Guy Duguay, in the artist's studio (2018)

Mario Doucette

Mario Doucette is a painter who reveals the shortcomings of the historical colonial discourse as told by the victors. Nourished by research on the history of the Acadians, he imagines alternative discourses to the usual stories (such as that of Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie (1847) by the American author Henry W. Longfellow) that have been perpetuated by many artists since. His compositions, inspired by neoclassicism, borrow from the codes of cultural propaganda (from both ancient and modern history) and go back and forth between reality and myth to expose the ideologies that govern the official historical discourse.

A native of Moncton and represented by Division Gallery in Montreal, Doucette was a finalist for the Sobey Art Award in 2008. The work of this self-taught artist has been included in exhibitions such as the Canadian Biennial, Oh, Canada: Contemporary Art from North North America, The Painting Project: A Snapshot of Painting in Canada, and 150 Years | 150 Works: Canadian Art as Historical Act. His work can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.