Olivier Martineau

Quebec artist Olivier Martineau presents Open the Whale of Love, his first solo exhibition at the Galerie C.O.A (6405 St-Laurent blvd) from March 23rd to April 29th, 2017.

Martineau roams the streets of Montreal and the highways of Quebec, gleaning abandoned objects that inspire him. Stray wheel caps, umbrellas, toboggans and other discarded articles feed the artist’s whimsy. He then creates expansive tableaux through the aggregation of these objects and painting. A daily practice of automatic and spontaneous drawing complements his creative process. Everything is scribbled, traced, or written at a single go, with whatever implements are lying around, such as pencils, crayons, markers, coffee, and inks.

A multidisciplinary and self-taught artist, the unclassifiable Olivier Martineau started out building design objects. Furniture design quickly sparked an interest in sculpture, and Martineau began creating expansive zoomorphic pieces. This exploratory phase allowed him to develop his decidedly expressionistic facture while respecting the rough and crude qualities of the materials he favours. One main objective steers his creative process: finding equilibrium and harmony through chaos and incongruity.

Erstwhile professional athlete Olivier Martineau has been fully devoting himself to creative pursuits for the past 10 years, as a sculptor, draughtsman, painter, performer and author. Under award-winning artist and designer Tibor Timar's instruction, Martineau began to work various recycled metals. Over time, he began incorporating reclaimed wood which he learned to handle through trial and error. Today, he benefits from a great reputation for his outstanding designs.

Martineau and fellow artist Claude Lessard founded Unis Vert L'art in 2008, a collective committed to presenting and creating artwork made from recycled or repurposed materials, and to the exhibiting art in novel spaces. Together they organized an on-site large-scale exhibition of over 30 artworks made from 7 tonnes of copper comprising the old roof of the Fairmont Frontenac Chateau. This project also spawned a creative collaboration with Gilles Vigneault, who penned Le Compte de Bic for an object-book designed by Martineau.

Olivier welcomed Gilles Gagné, who later became a close friend, into his studio through a mutual acquaintance. Fashion designer, critic, and stylist, the iconoclast enfant terrible of the Quebec fashion scene is impressed with Martineau’s surrealist ethos, and touched by the great freedom his work exudes. Convinced of his talent, Gagné promotes his art, thus allowing the artist to sell some works and obtain media coverage. Since 2016, Martineau has published two books, You Are an Illusion, and a second eponymous title. He is also a member of the Rollerboyz collective, and acts as a singer-songwriter, performing under the stage name Cobra.