It is not often an artist comes around and creates a buzz like Michel Desroches. There is nothing about Desroches that is cliché, as he is the antithesis and polar opposite of this in every imaginable sense. His work is mesmerizing, filled with subtle chaos and intersecting lines woven together methodically with clinical precision. Within this chaotic frenzy a pattern emerges and what it says on a visual level is pure magic. When asked about his style and work Desroches said, “When I was alone as a child drawing with chalk on the pavement, I believed the lines I created allowed me to gain access to another dimension, it was as if I could reveal myself and escape to a different world”.
Desroches grew up in an industrial area of Montreal and remembers playing in the factory fields amidst the smoking chimneys in the distance. There was a smell of fuel and a sense of struggle all around him that he could not escape, yet he feels that this period of his life made him who he is and gave him the tools to express as he does in his artwork what he terms as “Strange Beauty” He now lives in a loft in the old Singer factory in St. Jean Sur Richelieu in the suburbs of Montreal.
As a young boy during the seventies, he spent a great deal of time with his uncle, artist and sculptor Paul Phillipe Desrochers. Michel was intrigued by his work and artistry, soaking up everything he could while his imagination ran wild and he dreamed about all the things he could create. Being that his real name is also Desrochers he changed it to Desroches as he wanted to forge his own identity and not live beneath the shadow of his well-known uncle. Artistically Desroches had a very different viewpoint and path in his sights and he embarked upon it never looking back.
Desroches’s unique background created the perfect situation for him to become an artist. He studied art at UQAM Universite’ du Quebec Montreal and received a Bachelor’s Degree and certification in Art Therapy and multiple diplomas in the area of Mental Illness. He worked for about 10 years with patients, diagnosing their health issues, until one day he had an epiphany. What if he applied his artistic skills in conjunction with his knowledge in therapy to create art? It was at this moment he set off on a tangent and found his true calling. Fortunately for us he did, bringing to light some of the most dramatic images ever seen in the art world and fathering a new genre, Neo-Expressionism.
Desroches’s work has a metaphysical cadence to it, derived from his love of music. The force of his work is driven by its rhythm as he creates. Music is always present and part of the process in the creation of his painting. Some of his favorites include Atticus Ross, Smashing Pumpkins, Dead can Dance, and Alain Bashung. This by all means is a very eclectic mix he has on his iPod, yet it fits symbiotically with an eclectic artist such as Desroches. He also creates original music which he says is very personal and strange but allows him to drift off to that other world he mentioned and discovered as a child.
As I spoke with Michel Desroches, I asked him about his philosophy regarding his work? How do you describe it, what does it mean? He quietly replied, “It is the need to express connections in human nature, my work is visceral and crafted to be in the most personal way I can”. He believes the power of healing through this cathartic experience is accomplished in his painting and sculptures, and if done right activates dialogue. Within this, the viewer has the opportunity to interpret the images as they see them and experience communication within themselves in search of answers to the message in front of them. Desroches work is never static, constantly evolving through the feverish lines that give it life. He says “It takes a piece of art to another level of lecture and communication, bringing a new meaning to the painting every time you glance at it”.
His work is a playground to the eyes and almost a living entity. He does not want to create something invisible in the décor, yet he hopes people can discover something residing with themselves that opens a door for dialog between the painting and viewer. Desroches incorporates his presence inside each piece so that it can be felt like an emotional response. For him, it is nothing more than an unconscious mirror reflecting directly back to his audience.
As I dug deeper, unraveling who Michel Desroches is and what is behind his genius and madness, I mentioned that I had seen him posting quite a bit on social media videos and images of him sculpting. He began telling me about his fascination with this genre and how creating sculptures is a part of his process of creating paintings. Desroches stated that it has been about three years now that he had been revisiting sculpting and to him, it was like riding a bike. Desroches immersed himself into this craft feeling a sense of comfort as if he was visiting with an old friend. With renewed energy, his hands and mindset off on a mystical ride exploring every path along the way. Desroches said, “I felt good working with my hands and this material and I was surprised at how my skill and techniques came back so quickly”. He then went on to explain how creating a 3D model is extremely challenging and is the basis for his next painting. This practice of sculpting helps him nourish his drawing abilities and brings to life the sketches he creates that will eventually become his painting. Pictured left is an image of his first bronze casting “Proximity” and to say the least, he was over the moon and very pleased with the outcome. Another fact I found interesting about his explorations in sculpting is that for him there is a circular effect, his pictorial creations are influenced by his sculpting and the other way around. He was adamant that because of this practice his artwork would evolve greatly, and if you have seen some of his latest work that statement would be hard to deny.
During the process of this interview, it became clear that Desroches was blazing his trail, a genius savant mixed with that seventies bohemian nature, setting himself apart from the crowd and truly a man of his own. Wondering if he didn’t become an artist what would he have been, I asked him that question. It surprised me as he said with conviction “A Priest or a Doctor. A Priest because I like the principles of transcendence and the sacred. As for being a Doctor, I like to know how things work”. He added, “As a youngster, I was curious about objects and many things so I would deconstruct my toys to observe the mechanisms inside, yet the real task was rebuilding them”.
Over the years Desroches has received many accolades, including being awarded the Silver medal from the prestigious Mondial Art Academia. Competing against thousands of applicants in this international contest, Desroches came through with an incredible achievement and milestone. He can now add that feather to his hat. It was at this moment I felt it was a good time to ask Michel what he thought was his greatest accomplishment to this point of his career. As usual so calm and collected he replied “I think it is still ahead in the distance rather than what has come from behind”. Other than that he spoke of “Between the Lines” an exhibition at the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings Montana. You could see his eyes light up as he spoke passionately about his artwork, as if they were his closest friends, “To see 50 of my paintings reunited in one place, especially in a museum, was mind-blowing”. He then also mentioned the exhibit in “The Salon Des Beaux Arts” at the Louvre in Paris. Speaking on the incredible honor and accomplishment, he reflected on how grateful he was, coming from such humble means. He was so proud of this and even more so to be able to represent his country Canada.
I must say, interviewing Michel has been fascinating and a real mind-bender. He is truly a Renaissance Man if I have ever met one and a very cool customer. One evident thing that can be said of Michel Desroches is that he is comfortable in his skin and creating with an unbridled passion. At present, he is working diligently in his creation of paintings under mentorship with the acclaimed master artist and Father of Existential Surrealism, Sir Daniel K Winn. Their collaborative efforts have propelled Desroches forward in his work to reach new heights without limitations and have brought the eye of collectors and art enthusiasts around the world to view and acquire his masterpieces. As they say, it is never over until it is over, but in Michel Desroches’s case the music has just begun and the symphony of his work will continue to resound throughout the universe and is far from his last aria, as his story is still being written.
For more information: contact Laine Meier at WINNSLAVIN.COM