Pierre Gosselin, strokes of genius. 

Energy and enthusiasm: (enthusiasm from the root « in Theo » – « In God » from Greek) should find their way into the entire practise of creating a work of art.

This surely describes the strong character of Pierre Gosselin, a French-Canadian artist who knew how to canalize his artistic skills by using a bold brush stroke in his large, almost hyper realistic paintings.

One sure way of creating excitement in a painting is to create a sense of movement in its composition. There again, in Gosselin’s work, the subject seems to be coming out of the canvas so strikingly you may take a step back and brace yourself against his… brushes.

Not only does the subject have a strong presence of its own but the way Gosselin paints adds to the feeling of vitality and pulsation that we perceive in awe upon a single glance.

Pierre Gosselin, a self-taught artist from Montreal, had a reputation of being a man with a strong temper softened by his informal alternative ideas about man and society.

He was fascinated by Elvis Presley’s life and among many other subjects he chose for his painting, we must consider that his « Magnus Opus », is definitely the realization of these huge life size portraits of the King in action.

He achieved ultimate perfection in painting his personage with such a masterful brush stroke, so efficient in rendering the dynamic vitality of Elvis’ performances, that we are compelled to step back a little upon viewing  these canvases.

It is those brush strokes, painted « a la prima », that we should focus our attention on.  Not so many artists today can achieve such a feat. Most will simply create volume or masses by simply darkening or lightening certain areas. Gosselin achieved his awesome effect of lifelike presence, by using thick layers of brush strokes, « wet on wet » a bit  à la « David Leffel »  a very well know Rembrandt inspired artist.

This technique creates a depth in the painting. A contrast between the smoothness of the background and the « sculptural effect » of the bold brush strokes standing out in relief as if coming straight at the viewer.  This « trick » is a  trademark reminiscent of Rembrandt and even of today’s « new » classical schools propagated by such imposing figures as Nordrum, for example.

His brush strokes are exceptional and reveal a great artist.

Pierre Gosselin’s paintings are the result of a real passion. A deep love for his own thinking, ideas, as well as perception of man and society. He could not have painted weak subjects or vague stories in light tones with feeble light and soft colours, not  with his strong will and opinions.

Elvis gave him the opportunity, as a subject, to throw himself in the frenzy of artistic life. Such a passionate physicality found a way to emerge from its constraining limitation by using painting as a means of release.

It is not very common to encounter an artist who is both a superb technician and a man of opinion.

Looking at his portraits of Elvis, one can feel not only the professionalism but also the mastery of his brush strokes revealing a great artist. These paintings are definitely great works of art, landmarks in the history of Elvis Presley.

Denis-Richard Babary

Retired art restorer, former president of International Museum Service, a 40-year-old enterprise dedicated to appraisal, conservation and restoration of works of art in Canada.