Robert Mondoux has been painting for just five years. Yet, in that short time, he has developed a style that is unmistakably unique. “In what I’m doing, I’m looking for something. I’m looking for what’s behind an image, what’s hidden. It’s not that you would necessarily see what I was looking for. But, I want you to see that I was looking for it.” That’s what we love about Robert…he’s a seeker, he’s curious.
We met up with Robert in his NDG apartment/studio to talk about his work.
(Photography by Thomas Bock – Thomas Bock Creative)
Find out more about Robert Mondoux at the following locations on the web:
The Facebook: Robert Mondoux Paintings On Facebook
Would you like to introduce yourself?
I’m a designer / animator / painter with a lifelong background in graphic design, film/video making, animation, cartoons, photography, painting and unicycle riding. Ok, not unicycle riding. For the purposes of indieNDG, I am an URBAN PAINTER focusing on my home city of Montreal, Canada.
Upcoming/ongoing projects you have at the moment:
I’ve been showing my Urban Paintings in various Cafes, Restaurants, and Bars for the last 3 years. Many artists may feel this is not a true venue for one’s work. But until, if ever, you are the featured artist of a professional gallery, I believe there are many pop avenues to bring your work to the public eye. Currently (October 2017) I have been featured at CAFE MARIPOSA (5434 Côte Saint Luc Rd ) and GALLERIE METEQUE (5442 Côte Saint Luc Rd ) , both on Cote St-Luc road, in the west end.
MARIPOSA has 12 of my paintings on sale until mid-November. GALLERIE METEQUE has a 20 artist retrospective, including one of mine.
What should we be on the lookout for?
I tend to use social media a great deal to promote an exhibit or create interest in an upcoming work. I’ve studied other current artists on Facebook and Instagram and have tried to learn from their experience. ROBERT MONDOUX PAINTINGS (Robert Mondoux Paintings On Facebook) is the Facebook page I use to intersect with those that follow my work. I test out image choices and even show the incremental stages of a work in progress. I also have my standard webpage, robertmondouxpaintings.yolasite.com, where I collect all my finished paintings more or less chronologically.
What do you want people to know about you in 2017?
2017 really feels like a break out year for me. Not so much in greater awareness of my work or my sales, but rather my own greater connection with my neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grace – NDG. Through local art collectives and activities, I feel much more linked to my fellow creators this year.
As you’ve just recently undertaken painting, describe how you started:
My background was always creative in everything…amateur filmmaking, video making, cartooning for print, graphic design for print before computer days…graphic design in computer assisted ways. In my 40s, I got into graphic animation and motion design, After Effects, animation, 3d effects and logo design. I kept pushing myself into technology, technology and more technology. Even as I was still working in that field, I had seen other people, my brother included, do a lot of painting. He kind of inspired me to try, with very different subject matter, what I would want to bring to painting. I started out with little boards, on the weekends…how do you hold a brush?…how do you do that?…slowly with small boards, then larger boards, then, pretty soon, I was doing actual canvases.
It (painting) was an alternative to all the tech, and all the tools being constantly on a computer screen. But, I needed something else, something that was like the inverse of that. Even though I take digital photographs to get to a point with my paintings, it’s like un-doing the technical image to being just something handmade. It’s just you, the board, and your hands. You can’t really get much more personal than that. I felt liberated.
How did you develop this certain style…describe the evolution?
The subject was always there. My subject is always moving toward brick, cement, asphalt, the edge of a building. And not in a way that’s derogatory…like, look how scummy a city is, no, not like that at all. To me, it’s a comfort. I can be alone, at peace, if there’s a city around me. Put me in a camping tent, I go crazy, to tell you the truth. I need the comfort of a crowd around me, in order to be alone. I need to hear the cars. Again, I come from filmmaking, where you’re directing the image, you’re deciding very clearly how this is going to be seen. So, the angles that I chose, they are really specific.
I will go back to a spot many, many times…different times of day. Where is the sun going to hit? What angle have I not seen before? I’m looking for something that I believe in…it’s city life, city textures, lamp posts, stop signs, fire hydrants, aqueduct lids. I show these random discs that are on every sidewalk, in my “Look Down” series, for instance. People say, “What is that?…What is that?” Well, you walk on it every day. You’ve passed a dozen of those just before talking to me today. No one sees them. It’s almost what I see first.
In what I’m doing, I’m looking for something. I’m looking for what’s behind an image, what’s hidden. It’s not that you would necessarily see what I was looking for. But, I want you to see that I was looking for it.
My main interest in my painting is the capturing and exaggerating of textures and surfaces of urban objects and locations. Rust, bent steel, dusty brick, long jagged shadows, etc. I’m constantly photographing various places and things that trigger something in me and could possibly lead to a painting.
To that end, I ALWAYS have some kind of camera with me, snapping left and right, leaving conversations mid-sentence, twisting low on a cement medium or climbing some bin to grab what I hope will be a useful image.
After selecting images, or parts of images and making a rough Photoshop patch up job, I’m ready to transfer it on a board or canvas. Within the recognizable images, I can then begin to abstract certain surfaces and layers.
The end result is, hopefully, a very illustrative and personal reinterpretation of the previous reality.
Were you influenced by older music?
In my youth, long long long long ago, when everyone was listening to current radio, I was curled up late at night with Augusta Lapaix and her BRAVE NEW WAVES program on CBC radio.
I would also find second hand LP s of Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, etc. This was mixed with an interest in Brian Eno (both wild and Ambient), Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Violent Femmes, The Cars, The Jam, Roxy Music, Bowie, Niagara, Gary Numan.
I was swept up into the Lounge/Exotica world of retro chick 50s and 60s Vegas music. For painting, I find meditative Ambient instrumentals best, but don’t quote me (ed. haha…we did). You may find me slapping on Acrylics to a loud rendition of the CRAMPS’ Garbage Man. (ed. Cool!)
What’s your favourite direction:
Least favourite word:
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Watching your grown children be good people.
What quality do you admire in a person (man/woman)?
Honesty and directness. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
What is in your music rotation right now?
Brian Ferry’s 1930s style jazz renditions of his Roxy Music hits; The Jazz Age (The Bryan Ferry Orchestra )
What is your favourite colour?
Red, Grey, mustard yellow.
What are your favourite names?
Those that cannot hurt me.
Talk about your life as a teenager and how do you think those years influence what you were pursuing currently?
As a teen, like many, I felt detached and unconnected to the world around me at many times. So I would go off by myself to downtown locations and sit and soak in the traffic, the sky, the mixed conversations of passers bye. There can be a great comfort in surrounding oneself with commotion while standing still within it. I am a nervous type that finds the quiet of the country quite unnerving. I seem to need the hubbub of a city around me to embrace my solitude and insecurities. Other than that, I’m a happy guy!
My paintings are looking for that embrace and comfort I found in my teen wanderings in an anonymous city. My paintings are, for the moment, absent of people. Yet I have been told that they “feel” occupied. Perhaps the viewer can feel surrounded or embraced by my images.
When you think of NDG, what comes to mind?
NDG has been my home since I moved out of my parents’ suburbs. I’ve gone through University, 4 jobs, a marriage and 2 kids in this great secret world of Montreal. The affordability, multicultural interaction and creative forces of this neighbourhood are without compare.
(click on images to enlarge)
My painting work is looking for a way to see the urban world around us through an illustrative, almost posterized perception. I take photographic references of real urban places and things and retrofit them to a more primitive state – an extrapolated and sometimes improvised painting. In this age of Photoshop and cameras in every pocket, each one of my paintings is a unique hand-made piece of a unique eye-made moment.
Cegep St-Laurent, Cegep Bois de Boulogne, University – Concordia Visual Arts Centre, Montreal
Film studies, Film production, graphic design, 2D-3D modeling and animation, print cartooning, poster design, painting.