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Artist Spotlight Series: Andrée-Anne Mercier

Andrée-Anne Mercier’s work is a fresh take on blending memory and technology. Based in Montreal, she uses painting, installations, and video games to explore the digital age with a unique twist.

Portrait of the Artist Andrée-Anne in Studio
Portrait of the Artist Andrée-Anne in Studio

Andrée-Anne Mercier, born in 1992 in Repentigny, is a multidisciplinary artist who calls Montreal her home. With a Bachelor’s degree in Visual and Media Arts from UQÀM and a Graduate Certificate in Arts, Creation and Technologies from the Université de Montréal, Mercier is a creative powerhouse. Her work is a thrilling blend of painting, installation, 3D modeling, 2D animation, and video games, each piece a testament to her boundless imagination and technical prowess.

À Côté de la Minobu Line, 2022. Andree-Anne Mercier. Acrylic on Wood 48 x 36 Inches
À Côté de la Minobu Line, 2022 Acrylic on Wood 48 x 36 Inches

Mercier delves into the fascinating intersection of memory and technology, posing the question: do digital tools immortalize our experiences or distort them? This intriguing inquiry drives her diverse artistic endeavors, which dance between illusion and reality, marked by a unique process of graphic simplification.

Mercier's artistic journey has taken her to international residencies in Japan, Spain, and Iceland, where she has drawn inspiration from the architectural and urban landscapes of residential neighborhoods. Her paintings capture the essence of these places, weaving together emotional, cultural, and historical threads with a touch of nostalgia and a dash of whimsy.

In recent years, Mercier has received support from the Conseil des arts de Montreal and the Canada Council for the Arts to develop eco-feminist video games with her collective, "pixels·collectif." These projects push the boundaries of both art and technology, reflecting her innovative spirit.

Gallery Exhibition of Mercier's Artworks
Gallery Exhibition of Mercier's Artworks

Mercier’s work has graced the walls of Galerie Robertson Arès in Montreal, Art Toronto, and the Foire Plural in Montreal. Her pieces are cherished in corporate and private collections across Canada and internationally, and her exhibitions have spanned the globe, from Canada to the United States, Japan, Iceland, and South Korea.

Andrée-Anne Mercier is a vibrant force in the art world, seamlessly blending the past and future, memory and technology, in her ever-evolving body of work.

812 Maplewood Fine Art Services In conversation with Andrée-Anne Mercier
Portrait of the Artist Andrée-Anne in Studio
Portrait of the Artist Andrée-Anne in Studio

Can you walk us through your typical creative process from the initial concept to the final piece? What does a day in your studio look like? Do you have any specific routines or rituals that help you get into the creative flow?

My creative process begins by wandering around and taking photographs. I focus my observations on vernacular architecture, in particular the house and its surroundings, but also on the digital view we now take of these places. I simply represent places I've come across on my daily walks around the corners of different cities, usually places where I go on artist residencies. I accumulate the necessary documentation to produce paintings, digital works and mini-installations. The photos I take are usually guided by my interest in color, angular shapes and the interesting juxtaposition of houses and vegetation.

I create plans for my paintings digitally, in Photoshop. I apply flat tints of color, generally guided by the initial hues of the house or site, and test different color palettes that appeal to me. After that, I have my wood panels custom-built by a local Montreal company. I often have unusual angles in my paintings, so I like to work with them for my commissions. I can finally start painting, the first step being to prepare the wood and sand before painting, and then I can start making my gradient backgrounds with my airbrush. I usually work on 2 or 3 paintings at the same time, alternating while my paint dries. The final step is always to choose the color of the sides of my paintings, a choice that can give a lot of impact to the work. I work from home, in my small studio, usually starting early in the morning to work on my paintings. I love painting, so sometimes I can't see the time passing. I think simple daily routines are ideal for creation, tea and herbal tea and podcast/music all day while working. I usually take a break to walk, swim or do yoga to help keep my energy up throughout the day.

What artists or movements have influenced your work the most, and in what ways?

La lironde, Montpellier, 2024. Andree-Anne Mercier. Acrylic on Wood 16 x 12 inches
La lironde, Montpellier, 2024 Acrylic on Wood 16 x 12 Inches

Japanese culture influences my work in many ways. Whether on the traditional side, like ukiyo-e, or on the more contemporary side, like anime, I find a fascination in looking at the visuals that result from each movement, for their precision and the universe that results.

My painting inspirations come from artists such as David Hockney, Hideo Hagiwara and Christopher Pratt. Their choice of subject and aesthetic appeal to me. Hockney for his depictions of landscape and his search for color, Hagiwara for his way of painting everyday landscapes and the nostalgia present in his paintings and, finally, Pratt for his themes surrounding the environment, architecture and memory.

Certain artists, such as Agnes Martin and Hiroshi Nagai, inspire me with their color palette: very pastel and dreamy for Martin, very sharp and contrasting for Nagai. Hiroshi Nagai is a Japanese artist who produced a lot of work in the 80s, mainly depicting landscapes of California and Hawaii. I can quickly see a link between my work and his; southern kitsch is obviously something that links us: simple houses, cut-out shapes, straight lines and contrasting colors. All these similarities can also be likened to the aesthetics of the genesis of video games and pixel art.

Could you elaborate on your process of graphic simplification and how it contributes to the themes of your work? In your view, how does the process of graphic simplification affect the viewer's perception of your work?

Inspired by original photographs, my urban stagings are the result of an extensive digital transformation process. The scenes depicted in my work are the result of drastic graphic cuts and simplifications, giving an impression of suspended time. Their simplicity and ambiguity are intended to question the relationship between memory and technology. In particular, I question whether the use of digital tools contributes to celebrating our memories and experiences, or rather distorts them.

Dans la côte de San Antonio, 2023. Andree-Anne Mercier. Acrylic on Bois. 42 x 40 Inches
Dans la côte de San Antonio, 2023 Acrylic on Bois 42 x 40 Inches

I compare this decomposition of the image to the layers that time applies to our

memories, leaving behind the details we remember.

Through my two-stage works, I reflect on how the blending of the real and the virtual alters our perception of the original place. The different layers and transformations applied, as well as the digital superimposition, generate a result that can blur or accentuate the memory. The simulation of places encountered, whether in my paintings or videos, reappropriates the codes of video games in a playful and sensitive approach.

How have your artist residencies influenced your perception and representation of architectural and urban landscapes? What inspired you to focus on the architectural and urban landscape of residential neighborhoods in your paintings?

Bloc 19, Marunuchi, 2023. Andree-Anne Mercier. Acrylic on Bois. 21 x 13 Inches
Bloc 19, Marunuchi, 2023 Acrylic on Bois 21 x 13 Inches

Artist residencies have always been an important part of my current artistic process. My first solo trip outside Canada was for an artist residency in Japan at Studio Kura, in the village of Itoshima in 2016. I'd never really had the opportunity to travel, but getting out of the country to discover a fascinating culture obviously marked the beginning of several subsequent stays abroad as part of a creative residency.

During my first residency at Studio Kura, I mainly explored the angle of Japanese popular culture; the "kitsch" of Japanese culture. For example, I worked with images from Nintendo video games, the holographic pop singer Hatsune Miku and reproduced sculptures of the food on display in front of restaurants. I think you can always find this playful angle with popular connotations and this questioning of mass culture in my digital work and in my aesthetic choices.

My interest in houses and buildings also began during my second residency in Japan at AIRY, in the city of Kofu. Architecture is the element that most fascinates me in every new environment I visit. I find myself observing the differences between the way certain places are inhabited and how they adapt to different climates. The colors found on Japanese houses and streets also captivate me; their use is unusual and differs from the more sober hues that usually populate Western living environments.

Choosing houses in residential neighborhoods was a natural choice for me, simply because these are the places I grew up in, the places I know. I also like art to be accessible, so choosing subjects that everyone can relate to at some point is important to me. The house is part of someone's daily life, not only the owners, but also the neighbors and passers-by.

I think there's a strength in the everyday that we often forget. The recurrence of elements that we observe every day can, over time, bring us peace. That's what I like to observe in my neighborhood, but also abroad, in the towns and villages I come across.

Gallery Exhibition of Mercier's Artworks
Gallery Exhibition of Mercier's Artworks

As a multidisciplinary artist, how do you see the evolution of digital art and its impact on traditional forms of art like painting?

As mentioned above, I paint pictures in the traditional way, with acrylic, but a whole digital process is present before the painting stage. Taking elements from everyday life, I analyze and reuse these elements to create pictorial projects using digital tools, questioning their effect on our memory and the way we interact with different environments in everyday life. The paradox of the mediums chosen gives rise to a dialogue between fine art and digital art; both art forms revive the age of technology, a subject at the center of quintessential capitalism. On the one hand, I like using digital tools - like everyone else, they make life easier - but on the other hand, I often feel uncomfortable using them, which is part of a movement towards speed and immediate consumption. I like to use this method, which allows me to try out a lot of things before painting, so more possibilities in less time. However, I believe that technology is a double-edged sword that shouldn't be over-exploited.

Dans l’angle, à Kōfu, 2023. Andree-Anne Mercier. Acrylic on Wood. 24 x 23 Inches
Dans l’angle, à Kōfu, 2023 Acrylic on Wood 24 x 23 Inches

The search for memories and the parallels between different retro eras allow me to experiment with different techniques for pictorial purposes, while raising questions about the accessibility of digital tools and their relevance to the commemoration of experiences. They also allow me to echo the growing collective anxiety about the climate crisis and the fragility of the places that surround us. In my opinion, I believe that digital technology will continue to affect traditional art forms, but not too directly. We're seeing a big movement towards slow tech and a return to nature that's more and more present. People want to slow down, which is a bit contradictory to technology, which values speed and innovation. The more artists use digital art as a medium, the more the subject will serve to question digital art itself, it goes without saying.

Un coin de la chana, 2024. Andree-Anne Mercier. Acrylic on Wood. 15 x 12 Inches
Un coin de la chana, 2024 Acrylic on Wood 15 x 12 Inches

In a way, that's what we're doing with my group pixels-collectif. It's a collective that allows my team-mates Frédérique Bordeleau, Sandrine Cadieux and I to appropriate a medium historically dominated by men and with commercial connotations, the video games, but also to question the place of this medium in today's art. With pixels-collective, we aim to present alternative narratives and aesthetics, tackling feminist and anticapitalist themes in particular.

Do you have any upcoming events or exhibitions in 2024 that you are particularly excited about, and what can audiences expect from these showcases?

I am currently in production for my next solo exhibition at Galerie Robertson-Arès in Montreal, which will take place in December. The series of paintings for this show will be inspired by my last residency, which took place in Fujiyoshida, Japan last April.

Gallery Exhibition of Mercier's Artworks
Gallery Exhibition of Mercier's Artworks


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