Category Archives: Canada

Introduction to Quebec artist, Claude Bolduc

The job of a muse, says Germaine Greer, is to penetrate the male artist and call forth a work from the womb of his mind. She is the anima to his animus, the yin to his yang. When I saw the work of Claude Bolduc from Quebec, I wondered if the same muse spoke to him and Hieronymus Bosch across the span of 500 years.

Bosch was a respectable, Catholic citizen of a small town in the Netherlands in the mid-15th Century. Sometimes called ‘the devil’s painter’, Bosch’s fantastical imagery portrayed heretical religious narratives; the most memorable are those that depict his nightmarish images of Hell. Bosch’s paintings are instantly recognizable, for it would be impossible to see one without stopping to stare, in trippy wonder, at the abominable events that await us in Hell (as depicted in image above.)

It’s not that Bolduc’s artwork is heretical. It is not, especially from the perspective of the 21st Century viewer. Rather, his work is Bosch-like because it commands us to stop and consider his proposition from an anything-but-orthodox perspective. I was intrigued when I first encountered Bolduc’s work a few years ago in Quebec, but I had no appreciation for the extent of his work until I met him recently. Bolduc has a long history of creative ventures. Always invested in personal creative expression, he started his career as a composer until life showed him another path – one that he didn’t have to share with others. The decision to pursue art wasn’t so much an epiphany, but rather his lingering memory of the artwork of Arthur Villeneuve, a Québécois painter whom he met as a young man. Although Villeneuve’s early (and private) work was eccentric and unorthodox, he went on to become a well-respected member of the Canadian art establishment. But it was Villeneuve’s early work that inspired Bolduc: unconventional images and an intensely personal means of self-expression. Bolduc describes his own art as ‘art singulier’, a term that describes self-taught artists who are entirely outside the fine art system, either by choice or by circumstance. As Bolduc says, it gives him the right to be himself.

The subject of many of Bolduc’s paintings is the skewering of the Church, literally and figuratively. (Above: Coup D’Etat Sur L’Eglise (A Coup on the Church), 1999 – 2000.)  It’s not that he has lost his faith; in fact, he is a deeply spiritual person, who believes in the fundamental teachings of the Bible. It is the failings of the Church that trouble him and fuel his prolific art practice. He tends to work in themed series, like the Tarot, The Seven Stations of the Cross, Spirituality, and so on. There is much to show you in next month’s blogs, from early paintings, to drawings, to pastels.



Raw Vision Magazine – The quirky world of Jordan MacLachlan

My article about Canadian outsider artist, Jordan MacLachlan, was just published in the current edition (#94) of Raw Vision, the international magazine of outsider art. Titled, The Stuff of Life: The sculptures of Jordan MacLachlan, the article begins like this:

Jordan MacLachlan is a storyteller, describing to us what is, was, and could be. Sometimes the stories are a Grimm’s fairy tale of horror; others are benevolent and quirky propositions that ask: what if this happened?

The article introduces readers to her current sculpture series, Unexpected Subway Living, in which  MacLachlan explores the consequences of a catastrophe that forces people and animals into the underworld of subways. Her 300 sculptures populate a 24-foot surface, doing ordinary and extraordinary things, from a man smoking a cigarette to a headless woman walking a sounder of swine. It is, undeniably, an intriguing, horrific, and funny story. Check it out.

More about MacLachlan and her work can be found in earlier blogs.


Martine Birobent and Jordan MacLachlan at Norway Exhibit

COOL: THE ARCTIC OUTSIDERS in Norway is featuring the work of two Canadian artists: Jordan MacLachlan from Toronto (see previous blog) , as well as Martine Birobent (Quebec). The exhibit  is at the Museum of Outsider Art in Harstad as part of the Northern Norway Festival. This photo shows MacLachlan’s sculptures and Birobent’s dolls (hanging on the wall). The first report from the curator is that the exhibition is a great success, with more than 1500 visitors in the first week. Remarkable feedback, too.

Birobent, who passed away too young last year, has two pieces in the exhibit. Both speak to the oppression of women, their bodies bound, their mouths covered, barely mobile in their confined state. Below (top) is Muzzled Milk Chocolate. The other is Muzzled Lilas Verte, which reminds me of Atwood’s eerie foretelling, in The Handmaid’s Tale, of a society of subjugated women, kept for the sole purpose of bearing children.



Visitors are particularly relating to MacLachlan’s sculpture of Marius and the giraffe, which documents the killing of Marius in front of a gawking crowd at the Copenhagen zoo in 2014.

It is wonderful to see two of Canada’s top artists being in the spotlight. And it’s perfect timing for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, eh?

Jordan MacLachlan goes to Norway

COOL – THE ARCTIC OUTSIDERS, is the name of an upcoming exhibit at Norway’s museum of outsider art. Canadian artist, Jordan MacLachlan, was invited to exhibit her clay vignettes at the festival along with works from other participating Arctic countries: Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. (Who knew Canada was an Arctic country?) This makes her an outsider in more ways than the obvious one.

One of the works on exhibit, entitled Marius, is pictured above. It shows the dispassionate response of visitors watching the matter-of-fact killing of the giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo in 2014. Eighteen-month old Marius was a healthy, but genetically unsuitable, giraffe who was fed his favourite breakfast before he was shot, chopped up, and fed to the lions.

This compelling scene is a fine example from MacLachlan’s large body of work, which bears witness to our complex relationship with animals. We use them for food, work, sport, and companionship. We can also, apparently, get rid of them when they outlive their usefulness.

The exhibit is at Sortroms Museum/Trastad Samlinger, Norway’s Museum for Outsider Art. It runs from 20 June to 1 September 2017. The exhibit will take place in a new gallery in the center of Harstad during The Northern Norway Festival.

Jordan MacLachlan – Unexpected Subway Living

03jm2009detailAnother uber-project from MacLachlan is her vignettes of what does or might happen on the subway. Displayed on a 24-foot table is humanity in all its gory detail: a headless pig-walker, a woman giving birth, and a man being attacked by a pack of dogs. In the midst of this chaos sits a pure white Buddha deep in meditation on a subway seat, oblivious to it all, or perhaps, accepting it all as the stream of life. Not, we hope, what we will encounter on our morning commute to work, but certainly possible if all parallel universes happen to collide in one unforgettable moment.


Such is the vivid vision of Jordan MacLachlan, who sculpts her figures with terracotta, plaster, varnish, paints and make-up. I am forever astounded by the quirky humour of this artist who casually drops laugh-out-loud images into the bleakest scenarios. It leaves me gasping for breath… in a good way. 


Oh, look, there’s a snowman sweeping up debris! JordanMacLachlan_162

Waaait a minute… is that Santa? Or is it Noah waiting for the animals to hop into his sack?JordanMacLachlan_185

And then, thankfully, there’s the Buddha, the sole figure of serenity in this glorious jumble of humanity.78(1)






Jordan is heading off to NYC for the Outsider Art Fair this weekend, where her work is being featured by Marion Harris. Kudos to you, Jordan!