Simon Bilodeau opened his post-apocalyptic, monochrome exhibition to a crowd of Dallas art collectors and patrons at Circuit 12 on September 12. He describes this landscape of industrial sculptures and delicate silver accents of chains fragmented mirrors as an, “imagined fabrication he invites the viewer to step into.” Originally setting out to study painting, Bilodeau quickly turned into a student of all visual forms, preferring to create environments for viewers as opposed to two-dimensional works. His tongue-in-chic commentary on consumerism and tragic events such as Fukushima takes on a minimalist palette and contrasting textures. Below is an interview with Simon and a look into his history as an artist, process of creation, and future exhibitions. The show will be on display until October 12.
Where are you right now?
Now I’m living and working in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
You’re currently exhibiting at Circuit 12 in Dallas, what do you want people to know before they view this exhibition, and what do you want them to think about?
They have to know my work is about destruction.
My work is about the things we are not able to see, the things we can’t see because they are far from us. They have to know the stories I’m referencing to are repeating notes of my production. My inspiration is about the industrialisation after the war to the industrialisation of the moment.
What about the Fukushima explosion, and how you reflect upon it in your works, specifically the series of the Fukushima rocks?
In 2011, when the accident happened at the Nuclear Power Plant at Fukushima Daiichi, I had just started my Masters. I was doing research on the invisibility, the ruins, the destruction, and this event suddenly happened. Of course it’s something that you don’t want to happen, just happened so fast and influenced my work greatly. The invisible death, the destruction of life, the ruin of everything. Fukushima quickly became the thing I focused on to create what I want to create!
It’s a series of 6 paintings based on an image of a rock I extracted from the internet. It’s a video taken by a robot inside the reactor; a rock on a grid in a reactor of nuclear energy, close to exploding. But what we see is just a rock on a grid, so I decided to paint these rocks the same way the field painters worked. So using oil paints, I painted this rock 6 times. I put the paintings under the video I created from the extract, so you have the reference and see what I saw as I was painting them.
You have a series of your paintings that you burned and now exhibit the ashes in see-through glass and wood cases. Tell me more about these works and how the idea came into play, because I remember John Baldessari doing something similar decades ago.
I burned my paintings for different reasons. My Masters was about thinking about the idea of invisibility, the romanticized way that something unseen can show you more than what you can see. The ashes that you have in the boxes, is how I see my paintings telling the viewer something different. Also, I was stuck with the paintings because nobody wanted it. In the world of capitalism, if nobody wants it, it’s useless and I didn’t want to throw it away. I took all videos and photos of how I burned it, and had it on my computer until I went through the airport and the scanner they used erased everything from the computer. It turned out to be more interesting in its documentation, because now you only see pieces and parts of the whole story. The idea of documentation itself is very interesting.
You started off as a painter, but now your work is much more sculptural. Tell me about your process and transformation, and how it relates to your current exhibition.
I loved the image of the painter, the image of the painter was kind of a dream and a hope for me. At university, I worked on everything from painting to sculpture and screen printing. I think now that I am an interdisciplinary artist, and you can see that in my work. I always thought that the space was too much for just the painting, I started creating the images and sculptures and the rocks from the painting. If you look at the small square paintings of the rocks to the video and the rocks in the space, they are all related to each other.
What about your shows? Anything coming up?
I have a few solo shows for next year, and one in November titled Empire. 3 of the shows will be in Quebec and one of them will be in New York. I’m working with a girl from New York, Anastasia Voron. I met her almost 2 years ago, at the Armory show in New York. It was almost an accident, originally I wasn’t planning to go to where I ended up meeting her. After we started talking, I showed her some of my work and she recognized my work from my work in Art Basel Miami 2012, and wanted to collaborate.