Look, But Don't Sit

One of the newer acquisitions to the Saskatchewan Arts Board's Permanent Collection is Marc Courtemanche's Trompe l'oeil, a chair crafted not out of wood or metal or even ceramic, but acrylic paint.

One of Courtemanche's goals was to question the fine line between art and craft and also explore what makes a chair, a chair. "Paint has a long history of being an art material, but I'm using it as a craft material. The chair becomes more like art because it's made from paint. It seems like it's non-functional. People will say this is not a chair because they can't engage with it," he says. "But, then, if you buy cheap lawn chairs and they break after a party, are they still lawn chairs? How do we interpret chairs?"

It took Courtemanche a full year to create the piece. He began by making moulds from the components of a regular chair, and then painted inside the moulds in very thin layers of acrylic paint each day. He inserted dowels to hold the chair together and keep it from moving.

People often don't believe the chair is made out of paint when they see the piece. It's difficult to keep them from touching or even bending it to authenticate the claim. Courtemanche also runs into these issues with chairs he has created with ceramics. At one exhibition, his chair was under plexiglass with vases on top. "Someone couldn't believe it was ceramic, so they kicked the plexiglass. Vases went flying, the chair broke, and then they ran out!" he exclaims.

Courtemanche donated Trompe l'oeil to the Arts Board's Permanent Collection in 2014 to show appreciation for Saskatchewan's art community and its role in the development of his art career during the 12 years he lived here. He says he is both humbled and excited to have his work in the Permanent Collection. "There's a lot of people in the collection I admire a lot - Joe Fafard, David Thauberger, Victor Cicansky, Jack Cowin - whose work has inspired me. I'm very proud to be part of that group."

The Saskatchewan Arts Board's Permanent Collection contains over 3,000 works by more than 600 artists and represents the work of Saskatchewan artists over the past six decades. For more information, visit the Permanent Collection page.

Front page and above:

Marc Courtemanche
Trompe l'oeil, 2009
Acrylic paint, metal and wood