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«My pictorial practice distinguishes by the use of bauxite (suitable material).»
Sophie Lebeuf was born in Chicoutimi in 1969. From her childhood, she still recalls of gouache pots in kindergarten, the smell of playdough, drawing with her mother, crafts with her sister, images of religious art that her religious aunt gave her, and a horse made of pointillism. By age 12, she developed a keen interest in art following a workshop with Angémil Ouellet, a painter who draws primarily landscapes from northern Quebec. Sophie Lebeuf spent her childhood and teenage years on the family farm with horses who were real confidants. This is a theme which follows her throughout her life and has been consistently present in her artistic work. She had her first exhibition experience at age 16, on the streets of Treasures in Jonquière. Years later, as an adult, she decides to fulfill her dreams and let her passions evolve as art becomes a vital need for her. Painting and horses – two important elements for her personal balance – then become one single passion. The pleasure of teaching and the desire to get involved in the cultural community are also elements that contribute to her well-being.
In 1994, she obtains a college degree in interior design from Cégep de Jonquière and from 1996 to 2002, she follows an interdisciplinary university education in visual arts at Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC). During her studies, she explores various media and experimented with the integration of bauxite in her paintings. This orange powder used in aluminum smelting, combined with pigments and a binder, allow for stronger colour-rendering and accentuate the dynamics of light and dark in her work.
In early adulthood, Sophie Lebeuf joined small group exhibitions and participated in an artistic symposium. In 2002, she met Gilles Brown from the Clarence Gagnon Gallery who encouraged her to continue on the artistic path she has chosen. Her career as a professional artist really began in 2003, encouraged by her mentor the artist Jean-Paul Lapointe. He encouraged her to hold her first solo exhibition at the Espace Maestria in Chicoutimi the same year. On the opening night, Mr. Paul Laforest suggested that she participate in the Salon Rencontre des arts of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The path was opening in front of her organically.
From the beginning, she won prizes and awards; including a 2nd place at the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu’s Salon Rencontre des arts and a 2nd place at Chicoutimi’s Concours Sélect. Sophie Lebeuf, now known by the artist name – SOFIA – was rapidly increasing her appearances in exhibitions, not only in New-Brunswick and Québec, but also internationally with her first exhibition in Belgium and France in 2008. She later exhibits again in France at the Carrousel du Louvre in 2015 and in Cannes the following year. She meets the artist Jérémie Gilles in 2008 who guides and encourages SOFIA in her professional career. In 2011, Michel Bois writes about her in the issue 93 of Magazin’Art, saying that she is a “woman of heart, freedom and passion“. This article opened other doors, speaking of the work of SOFIA: “[…]Thus she developed a vision in motion, combining repetition pattern through curves, undulations and contrasts, sometimes transparent, sometimes opaque […]”. One of her creations earned her another 2nd place jury prize in Trois-Rivières in 2010. Most recently, she won a bronze medal at the Academie Arts Sciences Lettres in Paris in 2016 and a certificate during the Gala Reconnaissance of the Centre national d’exposition de Jonquière.
Meanwhile, in 2006, she became a member of the Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels (RAAV), a member of the Maestria from 2008 to 2016 and a member of the the Académie internationale des beaux-arts du Québec (AIBAQ) from 2009 to 2013. Sophie Lebeuf is a professional member of the Société du droit de reproduction des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs au Canada (SODRAC) since 2011, an associate member of the Academy Arts Sciences Lettres in Paris Since 2015 and, most recently, she became a professional member Collectif International d’Artistes ArtZoom (CIAAZ) in October 2017.
SOFIA, who wished to steer her career in a more structured way, had her work evaluated by an expert in art, in October 2017. This professional collaboration is the beginning of a new chapter that has enabled her to evolve in both Canadian and European art markets.
You will find the works of SOFIA currently exposed in a permanent exhibition at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu’s Galerie du Vieux Saint-Jean, in in addition to the Jacques Lacroix Art Gallery in Chicoutimi and its studio-school, located in Jonquière. Several exhibitions are planned for 2018, including thematic exhibitions at Espace Contemporain de Québec and a solo exhibition at the Galerie du Vieux Saint-Jean.
Biography written by Helene Caroline Fournier, expert in art and art theorist, specialized editor, art critic and freelance journalist.
During her art studies, from 1997 to 2002, Sophie Lebeuf (SOFIA) has done a lot of plastic exploration and experiments. That’s how she started to use bauxite in her paintings. Through trial-and-error, she reached the perfect mix; the alchemy, which only she knows the exact recipe, has become her favorite medium.
In a voluntarily restricted color palette, SOFIA uses the bauxite transparency to bring a new intensity to the colors used. That is how she gives the paintings their tonal richness. The powder, mainly used in aluminum smelting, brings a special light that makes the shapes come to life and enhances the atmosphere suggested by the artist. The orange-red hues of bauxite enhance colors; gives them their character. The chiaroscuro produces a dynamic impetus to her pictorial composition. It is the red oxide duality and cobalt which will support the entire composition of the table.
Following the tachism created by the bauxite, SOFIA begins to see the sketch of her subject. One thing leading to another she then arranges its main elements to combine symbolism and allegory.
Colors and materials form the shapes, adding atmosphere and giving a powerful sense of mystery. Size and contrast ratios are organized between sensuality and strength, fluidity and power.
The starting point of Sophie Lebeuf’s work is pure emotion. She captures the feeling of the moment, transposes it in her own way, often in the form of animals. This synergy follows her emotions and sets up the elements of pictorial composition marked by her personal artistic expression. Her animals are never simple beasts. They are witnesses of their own inner sensitivity that is also carried in the DNA of the artist. They have a profound identity: they become protectors, holders of a born expression of emotion. They observe, question, and resonate. This human-animal association is an echo of SOFIA’s own experience, in which the animal plays an important part.
The expression of her animals carries a reflection straight out of the artist’s soul. Her subjects possess similar symbolisms in their own way, reflecting their passion, strength and singularity. They illustrate the passions – sometimes wild – of a living artist.
Her presence beyond the appearance
Used by philosophers to reveal the unexpected complexity of reality, paradoxes are powerful stimulants for reflection. The subtlety in SOFIA’s work sometimes distorts reality and gives the public the opportunity to look at things differently. Thus, the birth of new forms. The distortion or exaggeration of these shapes creates an unexpected result that is just as interesting as the mimesis realism.
SOFIA wrote the following about her work: “Human expression looms through the shape of the animal body.(…)My painting is born of an assured gesture. Drawing these sensual shapes may be deliberate or even merely a sequence of reflexes, instinctive reactions, and even sensitive, an emotional feel, the softness of line, and by the continued strength of chiaroscuro. These are interesting analogies that allow allegories for human and animal relationships(…).With this visual poetry, I can use painting as a form of expression to convey the subtle thoughts inhabiting me and to life itself by adding motion, curvature, volume and rhythm(…) “.
Artistic approach written by Helene Caroline Fournier, expert in art and art theorist, specialized editor, art critic and freelance journalist