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  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 2, No. 4, 2003

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by Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal

Lyne Bastien Lyne Bastien was born in the Abitibi region of Quebec in 1957. She has participated in a number of exhibitions: "Les Femmeuses," Pratt and Whitney Canada, (2002 & 2003), Longueuil; the "Exchange Show," Temple University, Tyler School of Art, (2002) Philadelphia, USA; "Les 200 Ans de la Lithographie," National Library of Quebec, (1998) Montreal; "Les Abitibians en Exil," Rouyn-Noranda Centre, (1994) Rouyn; "Multi Media," Visual Arts Centre, (1992) Montréal; "La Guilde Graphique: 25 years of Contemporary Prints," (1989) Montreal.

Her works have been acquired by Concordia University, the Cirque de Soleil, the Confédération des Caisses Populaires, the National Library of Quebec, the BNP Paribas Bank, the Art Academy of Cracovia, Poland, among others.

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"What the paper attracts exists, only it has never been seen before. . . the paper captures in an instant a whole teeming world of facts and accidents which really exists, although the human eye is incapable of seeing it."
- Jean Dubuffet, Empreintes, 1957
Laudes II, monotype, 100 x 74 cm, 2003
© Lyne Bastien

The art of Lyne Bastien illuminates what Dubuffet perceived years ago: that there are qualities inherent in paper that make it ideal for certain forms of art.

Lyne Bastien states that paper and printmaking were part of the media she wished to explore in art school. She was encouraged by the American Robert Biguelow, (the printer for Motherwell), who served as her academic as well as spiritual guide. The teacher advised his student to put all her tools (technical skills) away in a suitcase to allow herself more freedom to exercise her imagination. Seeing the current production one has to conclude this was very good advice. Maturity and experience have taught her to select only those technical elements that facilitate "what it is that she wants to say and not how."

During her career, Bastien has experimented with different techniques in the creation of works on paper such as lithography and etching. Today, her preferred method is the monotype. The monotype is associated with printmaking in that involves the use of print media -- plates, inks, press -- but does not require a matrix, which offers the possibility of multiples. Thus, the monotype is considered a 'painterly' process because the image is painted or drawn directly onto the flat surface -- either metal or plexiglass -- with inks that are then transferred directly onto the paper through the etching press. The result is a unique piece, hence the prefix 'mono'. Lyne Bastien adds to the originality of her pieces by enhancing them with color pencil and crayon often.

Odyssée I, monotype, 46 x 64 cm, 1989
© Lyne Bastien
Mana, monotype, 43 x 57 cm, 1990
© Lyne Bastien

Bastien states that at the beginning she used the monotype as a way of producing ideas rapidly. In time, she realized that this method offered a wide range of possibilities for expression. The qualities that attract Bastien to monotype are the speed and immediacy of the method. The fact that it is so close to painting also had great appeal; it gave the artist "a natural avenue to the spontaneity, intuition and crudeness" she sought. In addition to all that, there is the added benefit of the accessibility in printmaking that allows a more dynamic exchange between artist and public.

The ritual of the preparation - the selection of the most appropriate support for a specific project from an array of beautiful hand made rag papers, the measuring and tearing of the paper, the mixing and modifying of the inks and the setting of the press -- puts the artistic mind in gear and gives ideas the chance to take shape. Bastien observes: "the physical process of making prints is now an integral part of my creative process." According to the artist, her studio is her favourite place in the world, a place of retreat where she is embraced by a sense of intimacy, a place where she thrives in her work as well as a place that permits her to reflect on every aspect of her life.

The art of Lyne Bastien is nourished by many different sources. Naturally, these evolved and changed as the artist matured.The early works of the artist remind of the art of Arshile Gorky in the abstraction of form, the rhythmic composition, the harmonious use of colour and the irrational aspects of the work, i.e. the feelings they evoke and imagination they reflect.

Arshile Gorky, Water of the Flowery Mill
© Arshile Gorky
Warrior, monotype 43 x 57 cm, 1991
© Lyne Bastien

Bastien states that she comes from a strong Catholic background. The printmaker's own Judaeo-Christian heritage plays a central role in her work of the mid-90s. The images of these years mark a period of transition in the work of the artist. Evidently, at this point she concentrates on religious symbols.

Précarius, monotype, 122 x 122 cm, 1997
© Lyne Bastien
Semailles, monotype, 122 x 122 cm, 1997
© Lyne Bastien

Slowly but surely, her work shows a movement towards freedom and away from religious iconography. Today, her heritage reveals itself only to a certain extent in the central elements and the titles chosen making the content of her work spiritual but by no means religious.

Observing her production through time it is easy to see that the artist develops rapidly, freeing her work from the formal links of the art of Gorky and, by extension, from those of the Abstract expressionist movement as well as from strictly cultural sources. She moves towards a very personal style and aesthetic language remaining, consciously or unconsciously, close to the art brut in all its introverted subjectivity. The forms of her figures and objects are completely devoid of modelling and have a tendency towards the generic, the compositions blatantly disregard illusory space and the colours, although they are mixed, are mainly warm and vibrant. Hers is an art that comes out of a need to express rather than to intellectualize.

Although Bastien's paternal great grand-mother was native Canadian, the artist did not have much chance to interact with this side of her family and learned little about this part of her heritage while she was growing up; however, the organic character of her work, her attraction towards the unknown, the mystical and the spiritual denote an instinctive link to her ancestry.

Embrasement IV, monotype, 51 x 38 cm, 2003
© Lyne Bastien

The origins of the current production of the artist stem from her interest in the concept of religious ecstasy and its similarity to that of orgasmic ecstasy. In reading some descriptions of saints who had ecstatic experiences the artist realised that they were comparable to the orgasmic experience. From there, she became fascinated by the parallels between a mystic communion with God and a moment of intense communion between human beings. At this point Bastien began to integrate the concepts of sexual experience and religion in her work. In time, the religious aspect becomes less and less important in her art transforming itself into a spiritual quest. Today form and content are more linked to nature than anything else.

Soif, monotype, 100 x 74 cm, 2003
© Lyne Bastien

Overall, her creations are very personal and primal but, nonetheless, spiritual manifestations which distinguish themselves by their sublime harmony and beauty. The artist places a central symbolic image amidst a deep background which, borrowing the words of Dubuffet, create different aspects ". . . which, in faster or slower tempo, are assumed by the entire natural world, everywhere, the world of mountains and shores, rocks or skins, of the depths of the sea or sandy deserts. . . " The central symbolic image floats in this background and whether its meaning remains obscure or it is revealed by its form or the title of the piece, the profound significance and the reverence inherent to it are not lost to the beholder. In fact, the experience of being in the centre of a room surrounded by the works of Bastien is similar to that of standing in awe surrounded by nature or, for that matter, in a quiet place of meditation.

A solo exhibition of Lyne Bastien will be held at The Dorval Cultural Center (1335 Lakeshore road, Dorval, Tel. 514-633-4000) from November 26th to December 10th, 2003. The vernissage will take place on Wednesday November 26, 7 to 9 PM.

Editors note: To find more about the artist or to get in touch with her, please write to to the attention of Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal - Arts Editor.

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