Born in the Bas-du-Fleuve, Miville (real name Jennifer Tremblay), who grew up and studied set design at the Conservatoire d’art dramatique in Quebec City, is also a renowned costume designer in the Montreal television and theater community. She has received two Gémeaux nominations for Best Costume Design in Fiction. Miville has been practicing printmaking for several years; her etching Genesis was acquired by the Bibliothèque des archives nationales du Québec (BanQ) and two of her abstract works are also part of MEMORIA’s public art collection. The artist has participated in several group exhibitions, including at the Centre national d’exposition de Jonquière (CNE) and the Foire d’art contemporaine de St-Lambert (FAC), as well as in the United States for Scope in New York and the Red Dot International art show in Miami.
Miville paints both abstraction and portrait with diametrically opposed processes. Quite contradictory in fact, yet, and ultimately, speaking to one another in absolute complementarity. Her abstract work primarily explores two mid-20th century movements: action painting and minimalism. Her plastic influences belong to the same period. The relationship of strength versus weightlessness is at the core of her approach. While painting, her body is totally invested; her gestures are visceral, anchored, full and feisty, almost brutal. Steering clear from automatism, she meditatively visualizes while intuitively investing the canvas in the same breath. On a partially covered raw cotton backdrop, the result is pure and aesthetic, in complete weightlessness.
Inspired by architecture, both organic and urban, mass and volume rub shoulders with balance, line and light in her creations. The architectural structure draws her out of her already circular natural movement. For Miville, the spatial composition is the breath of the painting. Her canvases are mounted on painted false frames, allowing her to play with form and space. She builds a palette of acrylic pigments and mixes her own colors, although black and white are omnipresent in her work.
Miville invites the viewer to engage with her painting to give it meaning and take ownership of its history. She thereby defines beauty as a feeling and a story evoked in the viewer through her work. She considers that minimalism influences our well-being on a daily basis. “The reason for this is a certain psychology of knowledge. As for beauty, which is a modality of the absolute, one always begins by feeling what one thinks; one only really understands what one has first grasped through feeling.” Usefulness of beauty – philosophical prose by Victor Hugo. The character and its psychology inhabit Miville, greatly inspired by German expressionism; its subjective aspect and its instinctive functioning. Through portraiture, she develops the notion of identity and gender through a reflection that begins with photography. She draws an intimate self-portrait, exaggerates and transforms the physical features with a pencil on canvas, then stages herself in a solitary way. Her figures are framed in medium close-up shots to focus on the face so that the viewer pays attention to the emotions and psychology of the character. Interaction is paramount. Situated in an abstract “no man’s land”, sometimes part arrogant, part blasé, inquisitive or melancholic, her portraits, whose gaze usually focuses on the viewers, seem to know more than they do.
Miville cultivates a sometimes-unsettling strangeness. She is driven by the distortion of the line and reinterprets the notion of beauty, whose aestheticism varies from one painting to another. Returning to oil painting, graphite energetically claims its place through her brushstrokes. She embraces a unique and daring color palette, from Japanese aka red to salmon, including all shades of green. Like the early expressionists, Miville translates in her own language her uneasiness about the world and society as she perceives it today.
“Embracing abstract automatism and expressionism, Miville is the inheritor of Marcel Barbeau’s searing intensity and of Franz Kline’s and Antoni Tàpies’ plastic and spiritual approaches”.
– Éric Clément, LA PRESSE
“Miville has a great sense of movement, esthetics and composition.
– Malgosia Bajkowska, curator, SALON B
“Miville’s paintings show a subtle roughness, an incredible refinement – I was about to say affection – for what is seemingly, at first glance, a release of emotions. It’s both gentle and violent”.
-Mathieu Laca, PAINTER
“Despite the disheveled edges of the raw canvases, the droplets of paint fallen from the brush and the scratches left behind by the abrasion of her construction painter’s brushes, the works are finely measured. They have a clarity, a sharpness, a dazzling quality that brings to mind certain paintings by Joan Mitchell or Marcelle Ferron.”
– Josianne Desloges, LE SOLEIL, QC
“The inspiration of masters such as Tàpies, Franz Kline, Francine Simonin and Rita Letendre shines through in her works.”
– Sandra Godin, JOURNAL DE QC