Canadian artist Yechel Gagnon creates signature style plywood bas-reliefs. She has developed her own technique of creating custom made plywood with tinted and natural veneers. Her process consists of carving the surfaces, revealing a visual language that oscillates between abstraction and representation with those intrinsic to the material. This effect evokes a fictional landscape where land and sea appear before us, where cavernous spaces are excavated and sweeping valleys emerge. One perceives the work as an aerial perspective and then all of sudden the viewer is plunged into a terrestrial realm. An oscillation between the macro and the micro fluctuates before our eyes like fractals. It is the viewer’s interpretation that dictates the scale of what is being seen. These different viewpoints are similar to traditional Chinese painting where one can see many different perspectives intertwine all into one image. Much to many people’s surprise, Gagnon does not use any paint in her work; only wood, obtaining a personal language of mark making that is both sculptural and painterly.
Close engagement with the material qualities inherent to each form and medium has served as the foundation for Yechel Gagnon’s artistic practice, encompassing plywood bas-reliefs, embossed prints, frottage drawings, cast-aluminium works and large-scale architectural installations. Her approach marries diverse inspirations, including traditional Chinese painting, abstract expressionism, the generative art of Tara Donovan, the works of contemporary French artist Fabienne Verdier, and the distinguished architectural team Herzog & de Meuron. Engaging different media has allowed her to nurture a fluid, dialogical process capable of informing and renewing itself across disciplines. Gagnon’s approach employs tools and techniques devised for unfolding, layering and de-layering to unearth imagery from the material at hand. The resulting pieces allude to worlds of dissonant tension and balance, composed of voids as well as signs, of emptiness aside human presence, and of the natural with the artificial.
Born in Longueuil in 1973, Yechel Gagnon holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree (Studio Arts) from Concordia University and an AOCAD with Honours in Drawing and Painting from the Ontario College of Art and Design. Her works are exhibited in galleries, artist-run centres and museums across Canada, the United States, France and China. Her public artworks and exhibitions have attracted frequent reviews by noted critics and curators. Commissions of public artworks have been awarded to her by Bishop’s University, Licorne Theatre, Jean-de-Brebeuf College and the University of Montreal, among others. She is recipient of numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec and the Conseil des arts de Longueuil. Gagnon’s works are represented in public, corporate and private collections. Collections include the National Art Museum of China (Beijing), 4 World Trade Center (New York), Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), City of Montreal, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt Collection (Toronto), Gotlands Konsmuseum (Sweden), Nordstrom (Canada & US) and the headquarters of the Cozen O’Connor Law Firm (Philadelphia).