Yves Tessier’s paintings feature stylized figures that have been reduced to essential elements, yet retain a vitality and distinct presence. His favored medium is casein on aluminum. Casein is a rapidly drying milk-based paint that was developed in ancient Egypt and was used in commercial illustration into the 1960s. Tessier nods to the medium’s long history in his works, which formally allude to Egyptian friezes, illuminated manuscripts, and comic book illustrations.
Tessier’s scenes are generally still and quiet. His figures often feel separated from or indifferent to one another. When they do communicate, it is usually through subtle body language. In 3 Youths on a Jetty, for instance, two men standing in the middle ground and a woman facing them in the foreground seem to “speak” to each other through a series of coded hand gestures. Tessier’s figures, despite their simplified nature, feel grounded in reality: small details like the crease in the back of a knee, a knowing expression, or a pair of high heels give them specificity and rescue them from feeling like hollow signifiers. As revealed in his preparatory drawings, which were not on view, Tessier carefully plots out each element in his paintings. The reductive scenes he crafts recall the cells of comic books, as if each one were a single moment plucked from a continuously unfolding drama.
Tessier has displayed solo exhibitions within Montreal at ART 45, GAO/La galerie d’art d’Outremont, Galerie Laroche/Joncas, Projex-Mtl Galerie, OPTICA, and Galerie SKOL, and in New York at SHRINE and The Bedroom. Additionally he has exhibited extensively at group shows at institutions such as Louis B. James Gallery in New York, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the University of Toronto Art Center, The Foundry in the London Biennale context, Galerie Luz in Montreal, and Projex-Mtl Galerie in Chicago. He has been widely reviewed by Art in America, The New York Times, the Wall Street International Magazine, Frieze Magazine, Canadian Art, the National Post, and Le Devoir among others. His work is held in the collections of Division Gallery, ART 45 Gallery, and PADORAC in Montreal. Tessier received a two year grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, several grants from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation.
Courtesy Eric Sutphin via Art in America