Born on the Plateau Mont-Royal in 1949, Bernard Seguin Poirier is the fourth child of a family of nine, with two sisters and four brothers. His father, Marcel Poirier, was a goldsmith and his mother, Rolande Seguin, was a painter and sculptor. His parents, originally from Soulanges in the west of Montreal, moved to Ville-Emard, where they attracted a large clientele from churches in Quebec and Europe.
Bernard Seguin Poirier learns drawing, sculpture, painting and goldsmithing before developing a great interest in metal enamelling. At the age of seventeen, he went to France where he stayed for seven years. During his stay, he makes several trips to discover the city of Limoges. It is in Limoges, the birthplace of enamelling, that he starts learning the craft while he has a firsthand knowledge of goldsmithing thanks to his father.
As a master of goldsmithing, the artist falls immediately in love with the art of fire. As soon as he does the first attempts to learn the craft, he starts to seek constantly new ways of creating light and colors. From the beginning, he is avid to learn and let his imagination soar. As he improves his skills in the craft, Bernard Seguin Poirier contributes enormously to the evolution of this ancient but little-known art.
His techniques in enamelling are new and innovative. He has designed, inter alia, the biggest kiln in the world for the creation of huge enamel-on-copper paintings. This big kiln is equipped with a metal plate and guillotine doors. The kiln and five other smaller ones are installed in his House-Gallery in Les Cèdres, the historical Pierre-Charay, 50km west of Montrealin. He has been living in the House-Gallery since 1969, located near Fleuve Saint-Laurent, the homeland of his ancestors. He lives there with his wife, Suzanne Chenard, and their five children, Anne-Seguin, Felix-Alain, Yan, Leandre, and Benedicte. Family is of great importance to the artist, and the love of family is strongly present in his works.
After several years of creation as a painter and enameller, Bernard Seguin Poirier inaugurates his Enamel Chapel in 2001. It is the first time that the entire walls of a building are embellished with enamel-on-copper paintings. The hall of the chapel is 20 meters long and nine meters wide (65 x 27 inches), and the ceiling and walls are completely covered with enamel panels representing important ceremonies in Quebec. Since the opening of the Chapel jointed to his house, hundreds of artistic events and gourmets dinners have been celebrated in it every year accompanied by Seguin Poirier`s artistic creation, that is given to the ceremony hosts or one of the participants by drawing lots.
The art of Seguin Poirier
So much fragility in each painting! Yet neither colors nor materials are subject to change or decay in his works because Bernard Seguin Poirier is a painter-enameller! Painter because in his universe, painting defines itself as a “representation, suggestion of imaginary or real world with colors on a flat surface” according to Petit Robert. The artist paints with colorful powders on the metal – very often copper. The powders are nothing like other conventional colors as they do not glue to the surface and do not drip either. In his practice, there are no brushes. The powders or the pulverized silica are sifted on the copper surface with sieves of different sizes.
After the painting is completed, it should be cooked in a temperature of 2000-2500°F in a kiln. This high temperature transforms the powder into a shiny dazzling surface. By the purity and brightness of the colors, the theme and the content of the painting, we can easily guess that we are in front of a Seguin Poirier! What’s more, the gigantic size of a certain number of his works makes him the first and most important master of enamelling in the world.
Bernard Seguin Poirier’s works are the concrete examples of what Strenhal expects from a painting, “coming from the human heart”. Since the beginning of his career in 1970s, he immortalises the tranches de vie, scenes from everyday life, recreates nature, and renews the light. Every painting of his is an invitation to raise our sights and look into a different horizon, as if in the heart of every painting there is a white bird a messenger of liberty and peace: a child, a musician, or a window through which life is so beautiful!