Sans-titre Série D ©Jean-Thomas Bédard
Le combat d’Onésime Tremblay, a film produced at NFB
Genèse – Genesis, 2019 ©Jean-Thomas Bédard
Jean-Thomas Bédard is an artist and photographer from Roberval, Lac-Saint-Jean, who has adopted the Eastern Townships for 15 years now. His artistic vocation began at the age of 13, exploring painting and drawing. This talent led him to develop his artistic vision within the National Film Board of Canada, first as an intern and then as an animation film director.
It was at the age of 32 that he embarked on an expedition around the world. This one-year journey clarified his interest in the art of documentary photography. Driven by a need to show the human and his environment in images, his first exhibition revised his career towards documentary cinema, which he pursued for fifteen years.
At the turn of his retirement, he rediscovered photography, this time in a more artistic perspective, bringing him closer to his passion for the plastic arts.
In search of visual treasures, Jean-Thomas spent hours, or even days, contemplating the buffer zone between land and sea on the shores of the St. Lawrence Estuary. He spent a decade travelling the Lower St. Lawrence, the Gaspé Peninsula and the North Shore to document these beauties through his lens. He creates photographic compositions that evokes abstract painting, inviting a reflection on time and the impermanence of things.
His work displays the colours and materials found on the banks of the St. Lawrence River at low tide. Referring to the passing of time, to the geological upheavals that these stones have known as well as the organic life associated with them, he conceived two-dimensional works in bas-relief. These non-figurative photographs are taken in close-up, blurring spatial landmarks and offering a completely different perspective of the elements in reality. It is through his search for beauty that these fascinating landscapes and movements are drawn. It recalls at how beauty can be very simple, and even be right there, at our feet.
Jean-Thomas draws his inspiration mainly from nature. In his youth, it was by leafing through a copy of La Flore Laurentienne by Brother Marie-Victorin that he truly felt challenged by the diversity and richness of the ecosystem of the St. Lawrence Valley.
The work of the painter Alfred Pellan inspires him by his choice of colours and its organic textures. The painting entitled Le Jardin volcanique, which can be seen at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, proved to be an absolute revelation for him. Some of his own works even echo this painting. We also find Van Gogh and Jean-Paul Riopelle among his influences.
Le Temps suspendu ©Jean-Thomas Bédard
Le Temps suspendu is a photograph taken on the coast of the St. Lawrence River, near Parc National du Bic, on a grey morning in July. Evoking a bird that would have crashed on the ledge of a cliff, or a turtle, this animal symbolizing the longevity and creation of the world in the Amerindian tradition.
This work perfectly expresses how photography manages to suspend out of time a fragile moment in a geological history that may have spanned millions of years. It is a photo that sets a precise moment of a long time, that creates shapes that change and are constantly renewed. If we were to go back to that exact spot, right now, that image most likely disappeared, and we would face a completely different scene. This image has become emblematic, not only of this exhibition, but of all its photographic treasures collected over the last ten years on the St. Lawrence River flats.
The exhibition Littoral – Un fleuve un regard is presented at the Beaulne Museum in Coaticook, a must-do activity in the Eastern Townships this summer.
The exhibition takes place from July 4 to September 5 at the Museum. Hurry up and get tickets! Come see the works of Jean-Thomas Bédard.