Monday, January 30, 2017

CLAUDE-MAURICE GAGNON: AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL IDENTITY

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: Untitled Series: Weird Heads, No 4, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

Identity of self is everything to us. We are our ego, we are our reflection, we are both self and projected identity. Artists have always used the notion of self as a creative ploy. To understand others you really need to understand yourself. You are never alone, never entirely unique, you share with others the joy and tragedy that is being human. Therefore, an artist discovers the human dimension, by discovering themselves. 

Through autobiographical identity, the artist Claude-Maurice reflects and explores the question of identity and self. This is an artist that discovered early on in childhood, that identity is fixed by society. He remembers being attracted to boys, of wearing his mothers clothes and reflecting on his identity in front of the mirror. He imagined play and seduction taking place between him and that of a fictitious man.

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: Trouble in the Family Series, No 1: Mother and Son Tragedy, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: Trouble in the Family Series, No 5: Father, and Daughter, and Brothers, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

His mother of course eventually discovered him, and punished him for his drift in identity from the 'norm' expected of a boy. It is from this moment that he realised that there was more than one identity. There was 'normal' and there was 'abnormal'. Take the 'abnormal' path and it would lead to a marginal life, a life shunned by the 'normal' majority. 

So, like many young people who find it difficult to fit into the accepted straightjacket of identity within society, Claude-Maurice internalised. He secured an internal private identity, his own 'norm', one that he shared with himself, his drawings, and his private diary.

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: Untitled Series: Weird Men, No 1, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: Untitled Series: Weird Men, No 1, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

As an adult Claude-Maurice studied anthropology and the history of art, and through this path he has learned that an understanding of 'reality', the reality as perceived by the 'normal' majority is just that, a perception, no more real than anything else. 

By understanding how that perception works, as an artist Claude-Maurice can produce work that can question the fundaments of that perception and therefore of the society that projects that perception 'norm'.

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: Trouble in the Family Series, No 2: Bad News, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: Trouble in the Family Series, No 3: Nobody Speaks the Same Language, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

By questioning the social structures of family, gender, sexuality, sexism, heterosexism, the marginality of outsiders, and in particular those suffering from mental 'disorders', Claude-Maurice gets nearer and nearer to the dysfunction that 'normal' society fails to acknowledge, a society that suffers from a severe case of blinkered mono-reality.

In the imagery of his artwork Claude-Maurice represents true diversity of identity through portraits, self portraits, family portraits. All give a genuine feeling of troubled confusion, of fear and strangeness. 

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: In the Bushes for the Same Desire, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: Untitled Series, No 2: Weird Men, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

Faces loom out of the mist, they sit within the soup of lost or losing identity. There is tragedy here, and there is hurt. The tragedy of a society that doesn't care to recognise all identities, only some, and the life-long hurt of living a partial life, seen through the bigoted prism of others.

These are powerful pieces, and Claude-Maurice does a great service in projecting views of his life, his identity. A life and identity shared by so many in this world of 'one size fits all',

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: Self Series, No 1, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: Untitled Series, No 4: Weird Men, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

More of Claude-Maurice's work can be found on Facebook

Please be aware that all imagery was supplied by the artist, and therefore all imagery is copyrighted to Claude-Maurice Gagnon.

Claude-Maurice Gagnon: Trouble in the Family Series, No 4: Sister and Brothers Playing in the Rain, 2017 (watercolour drawing and digital work)

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