The multi-disciplinary work of Simon Bilodeau bears resemblance to the brutalist style in architecture of the 1950’s. Owing to a background in painting, Bilodeau hones his craft on the cold minimalism of the brutalist aesthetic with a refined aesthetic sensibility. Nevertheless there is a monolithic element to the structures he produces, and though monochromatic the viewer is presented with a dense collection of works varying in size, style and content. Their uniformity is undermined by how they each have a distinct personality that is strange yet familiar.
Some works appear as reconstructed artefacts, giving the viewer a haunted non-memory of history’s significance, turning longing into a most powerful emotion. Our relationship to all cultural artefacts of any age is shot through the prism of romanticism, and in the case of Bilodeau’s work their carefully crafted ephemeral presence is a rich juxtaposition to the harsher metallic edges of other works on display. In each work though there is a very deliberate focus on materiality and process. This is not a fetishisation of the production of things though, but a comment on the aftermath of accelerated development and its fallout.
Originally a painter, Simon Bilodeau’s sculptural work is an evolution of his artistic process. The gestural work of his canvases is extrapolated into the grand industrials forms of his 3-D objects. The grid features heavily in his work, allowing for framing within framing, decoding and recoding, facilitating multi-faceted interpretations of his abstracted reality. A primary quality of his work is a fragmented sense of the whole, which activates our desire for figuration, an impulse in the canon of art that stretches back to the Platonic dialogues.
The eloquent silence in the construction of space in his works is perfectly embodied in his exhibition De l’avant comme avant. Without us ever having experienced the process of the artist making these works, there is a sublime experience of the impossibility of every being fully re-integrated into the world of the whole, and yet we experience a feeling of deep connection to each object in its counterparts, and their relations to us. There is an element of memento mori at play here. There is a distinct harmony between the industrial and the classical between his works, the tie between them being that of fluxed memory that is haunted. Like The Elgin Marbles, Simon Bilodeau’s conveys romanticism through a sense of action, process and objecthood. However it is a romantic sense pessimism that permeates much of these works, both in the literal decay of the materials and the direct references to Fukushima, we are confronted with the collapse of neoliberal excess in a manner that is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying.
Text by Terence Sharpe