Native Montrealer, Andre Monet, defies the odds. He is an artist I discovered while maneuvering the cobble stone streets of Old Montreal last summer where I couldn’t help but notice the massive piece of artwork in a Gallery on St. Paul Street. By the time I discovered him, he was well on his way to the big time. The image that made me stop dead in my tracks was none other than the portrait of Travis Bickle portrayed by Robert Deniro in the Oscar winning 1976 film Taxi Driver. Overwhelming, not only in mass, but in the intricacy of each puzzled piece so perfectly placed that it didn’t seem a human being could have produced it.
Monet’s mixed media art of pop culture icons are an assembly of text, aged maps, bits of books and newspaper along with paint and varnish. His masterful and iconic pieces make it inevitable that you gravitate closer to get a up close and personal.
On an interesting note, more than 30 years ago Andy Warhol painted two portraits, one of Princess Diana and other Prince Charles, which Opera Gallery acquired and auctioned off for 3.1 million earlier this year. With the nuptials of Will and Kate last year, Opera Gallery in London then commissioned the 45-year-old Monet to paint the their portraits. The comparison between Monet and Warhol was now inevitable – he is this millennium’s avante guarde version. His portraits are unique to the times, just when you think there isn’t anything ‘new to be created’ in portraiture – he creates masterpieces out of bits of paper and lots of hard work and precision.
Monet studied graphic design at Laval University while exploring other mediums in fine art. He worked in fashion and advertisement for most of his years, before dedicating himself to be a full time artist, taking the plunge later than most at age 40! Monet has seen much success in recent years and has had his work exhibited in Paris, London, New York, Seoul, Singapore, Miami, Dubai and Hong Kong. When in Montreal his artwork is always featured at Galerie Lydia Monaro – one of the promoters who first encouraged him and displayed his work. He will have his next vernissage at the same gallery this Spring 2013.