French Toast: Multi-talented Artist Presents New Work

It’s hard not to find her; she is everywhere. I’m talking about the performance artist, poet, writer and painter Josée Fortin. And starting on Nov. 29, you will be able to see her paintings at Gallery 22, in downtown Whitehorse.

Better known under the name of Jo la Jolie, a glow poi dancer, we also know Josée for her colourful, fantasist, sometimes provocative, paintings. Here is an interview I conducted with her about her new paintings and show.

Virginie Hamel: Your last exhibition, very appreciated by the public, was at Baked Cafe, one year and a half ago. What can we expect from this new exhibition?

Josée Fortin: My painting style is still very provocative and feminine but yet I discover a new passion for the horizon. Being in the Yukon makes me take the plane a lot, I always like to see the landscape and the colors created by the horizon and the sun in the sky by the window of the plane. I use it a lot in my new paintings, I depict some crowded landscapes with a line of horizon – I’m a bit inspired by Edouard Manet. It’s a new thing I’m trying.

VH: You also have more masculine representation in your characters.

JF: I’m still a very feminine-inspired painter. I like the curved lines and the feminine body forms. I’m also inspired by the roundness and the nudity. But in my new work, I can say that men are more present, also, the couple is more depicted. I’m probably closer to my masculine side more than ever; maybe the presence of the couple is also the mirror of what I’m looking for.

VH: Some of your new paintings are more colourful. Are you using media other than oil?

JF:No, I’m staying with oil. I’m looking forward to try other media but so far, I’m just too busy with my job, my writing, my poi, which is fire dancing. I never have the time to try other media.

VH: About that, people in Whitehorse see you more and more as a fire dancer during different events and festivals like the Halloween Night at the Yukon Art Centre, the Gala de la francophonie and many more. How does your glow poi dancing influence your painting?

JF: As a fire dancer, I think I’m more aware about the movement of the body. I try to depict my characters in different kind of postures. I have a better idea of the body in the space.

VH: You are also a writer…

JF: Yes, I did a lot of writing this summer. Right now I can say that I have enough material for a book. It’s just waiting to do something with it.

VH: As you say, you’re busy all the time, how do you find the time to do your art?

JF:Painting is my way to relax when I have a bit of free time. I can stay a long time without painting anything, meanwhile my imagination is quietly working. I can have a few ideas waiting in my head at the same time. And one day, they’re ready to be on canvas.

Josée Fortin will present her art work at the Gallery 22 until the end of December.

The opening is Thursday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. You can also see Fortin at the Winterval event on Dec. 1.

Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tabs on events in Yukon’s francophone community.

Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tab on events in Yukon’s francophone community.

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