Kintsugi: The art in the flawed

Gibsons Public Art Gallery

For artist Aurélia Bizouard, “there is beauty in the broken,” a view literally reflected in her work. 

Bizouard has ten pieces in the mixed-media exhibition, ?What Matters!, currently at Gibsons Public Art Gallery. All of her works in the show were created in the spirit of the Japanese method called kintsugi, which is as much a philosophy as an artistic technique. 

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Kintsugi literally means “golden joinery.” It is the art of repairing broken ceramics and glass with a lacquer mixed with a precious metal, such as gold. Rather than disguising the damage, the technique highlights the object’s brokenness as part of its own story. 

“As a human being, you go through different life experiences, and sometimes you can be broken. But at the end, you’re still beautiful and life is more important than anything else,” Bizouard told Coast Reporter. “It makes you who you are.” 

Parisian-born Bizouard, who has lived in Canada for 11 years, was still looking for an artistic practice she could passionately delve into when she came across kintsugi in 2011 through a serendipitous mistake. After a glass-framed painting of hers fell over and shattered, Bizouard was so intrigued by the “broken” painting’s changed appearance that she began to investigate and stumbled onto the centuries-old Japanese art form. The discovery taught her a valuable lesson. 

“When you try to push life, it doesn’t happen. I really believe in something that comes to you by accident. It’s not obvious at the time – but we always see it clearly when we look back.” 

Bizouard has since developed some of her own painstaking kintsugi variations, purposely breaking and reshaping objects in her East Vancouver studio. 

“First, I will paint on a glass panel, then wait for the paint to dry, then break the glass and glue it back on top of another glass panel,” she explained. “Then I remove all the glue and I apply lines made of gold leaf. Then I will reglue them and add a protective additive to make sure it will stay. It represents the beauty in the broken. 

“And it always creates some kind of surprise. I have my own idea of what it will look like, but then it’s different from what I expect. It’s very meditative.” 

Two of Bizouard’s fellow East Van artists, Chantal Cardinal and Catherine Tableau, are also showing work in ?What Matters!. Tableau transforms and dyes plaster into subtly beautiful slabs of form and colour, while Cardinal creates striking, organically shaped three-dimensional hanging art from wool and exotic fabrics. 

The show, along with an exhibition of fine paintings by Katarina Meglic in the adjunct Eve Smart Gallery, runs until March 10.

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