VAP2021-Q1 Words and Pictures

Paintings in the flesh: Karine Guyon

Written by Trevor Kiernander.

Karine Guyon’s paintings don’t want you to see them online. Or rather, Karine Guyon’s paintings insist that you see them in the flesh. 

Vibrant and vibrating, the paintings change with the slightest movement, and the viewer might find themselves contorting their necks to see where the painting will take them, but also trying to remain perfectly still to capture that one perfect moment. This should not be confused with Cezanne and the artist’s view constantly distorting as one shifts position. Guyon’s interest in the viewer’s perspective is about a different experience with the material of paint, not as an illusion of reality. All manner of factors affect the surface reflected back at you, the viewer. Mirrored, metallic, and iridescent paint applied and removed furthers the experience and illusion of depth, and colour and texture creates forms in the recesses and shavings that layer in the dozens. Guyon works with paints and pigments that require viewing in person, much like how one cannot enjoy a simple still image of a lenticular photo; engagement is of equal, if not of primary importance.

Although quite striking in photographic form, one needs to be physically in front of Guyon’s work to truly appreciate the intricacies of her paint handling, as the different pigments and mediums, and the visual power created through simultaneous contrast take on a life of their own. Like Jonathan Lasker in reverse, Guyon’s expressive and intuitive paths through her paintings are scraped out of the dried and drying layers of paint, leading you through the surface into what feels like three-dimensional space. Guyon’s careful and considered stripping of the paint, as violent and obsessive as such an act can be, is more an excavation than a destruction or erasure.

As art and so much else is increasingly experienced online, and as we continue to wade through this global pandemic, it is refreshing to know that there are artists toiling away to make artworks that encourage you to appreciate the tangible object in a world filled with virtual everything. 

About the writer: Trevor Kiernander is a contemporary artist and sometimes curator and writer. Trevor is the co-founder and director of Pictura, an event highlighting the best painting Montreal has to offer, both in the context of private galleries and in public and independent spaces, throughout the city.His work can be found here: and on Instagram:

About the artist: Self-taught artist Karine Guyon has lived in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, and Barcelona, Spain and currently works as a full-time artist in Montreal. Her paintings can be found in collections including the Porter Housing Society Collection and the Simon Fraser University Art Collection. From 2015 to 2017, Guyon was awarded several grants for her collaborative installation entitled ‘‘Kaleidoscopy’’ and an Ontario Arts Council grant for ‘‘Spatial Landscape’’. In 2018, Guyon was given the first blacklight exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology, in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa. Her website is and her instagram account is @karineguyonart