Yves Tessier is a Montreal-based French Canadian artist with a studio in Harlem since 2002. Tessier moves back and forth between two cities. He focuses on his drawing studies in Montreal; he paints in New York. Because of this determined decision, it granted him more exposure and opportunities, such as solo exhibitions in his hometown Montreal.
Cover Photo: A Wall of Yves Tessier’s Paintings, courtesy the artist
As a fellow Canadian, I understand the sacrifice and unpredictability of moving away from your family and friends. It’s a place familiar and then for periods of time you find yourself in a stranger’s place for the sake of your ambitions. He is a driven artist who has kindly opened his door to me.
Tessier is very inclusive of the colorful world. Being able to stay in New York, a multi-cultural city enables him to observe many kinds of people. His work covers a wide range of genders, ethnicities, settings, and sexual orientations. He begins his composition with postures of full-figure in a single or group situation. He paints about the optimistic human mind: sensuality, entertainment, interior, landscape, and fantasy. They are images from daily, vacation and imaginary based scenes that evoke enjoyment. Tessier is capable of turning an ordinary scene into an evocative scene that intrigues the human mind by the juxtaposition of the imagery and the choice of saturated colors next to earthy hues.
The diversity of his work allows for an expansive source for his painting practice. Working from life models, printed and internet images, photographs or all combined, Tessier creates these depictions of his imagination. His references are not only from Western culture, he explores legendary stories and popular culture in the Eastern world as well. Open mindedness and exposure to different cultures gives Tessier the ability to confidently depict third gender, homosexuality, and group sexuality.
It was around 2001 when Tessier began to discover the beauty of casein for painting. Tessier initially used casein on terracotta polychromed sculpture/portraits from 1995 to 2001. With casein being a delicate water-soluble medium that dries waterproof, it took him a long time to perfect, but he is able to obtain a flatness and graphic quality in his work. Despite the exploration and labor, casein is fluid and great for solid colors without destroying the visibility of the artist’s brushwork. The visible brushstrokes in thinly painted flat shapes are evident in the artist’s process, in a way that other medium cannot compare.
Cheerful artwork ends with a cheerful conclusion. For emerging artists, we have the same fear and struggles in the art field that Tessier had when he first established his studio in Harlem. New York is an art capital that has the highest concentration of galleries in the world. However, there is a lot of competition and the lack of reputation for emerging artists does not help. Tessier’s advice to emerging artists is to find a good representation, which is a balance between studio time and networking time. Networking means approaching dealers and curators that seem fitting and make friends with other artists to build a little community around yourself, that he still does for himself. He would walk in a gallery and make the initiative to talk to the gallerists without the fear of rejection. The conversation usually begins with the current exhibition to show his interest in the gallery, then talk about his own work and send invitations for studio visits. If you want something, you have to ask for it. Tessier taught me that success is held in our hands. Do not say “if”, say “when” you find a gallery to represent you. When we believe in ourselves, we will make it to the art world.
Emerging artists are struggling not because our work is not good enough, but it is that our work has not been seen. Go to openings and art events; do submissions; post your work online; open your studio; talk to people and expand your network; be willing to stay in touch with your contacts. Being an artist is very time-consuming and it is a life-long career. We will be granted opportunities one day by doing all of the above, and it could happen anytime, anywhere.