By Allison Malafronte
Odile Richer (b. 1978) makes paintings that read like giant, gorgeous pages in a surreally romantic yet strangely realistic storybook. Metaphors, myths, allegories, allusions — all can be found in this Canadian artist’s highly detailed creations.
Trained as a museum technician, Richer is primarily self-taught. She also studied at the Saidye Bronfman School of Fine Arts (Montreal) and the Academy of Realist Art (Toronto).
Richer’s paintings are feasts for the eye that make us pause and ponder. They contain both overt and hidden symbols, and trying to solve the puzzle — or surmise what the artist was after — is only half our reward for close observation. In a painting such as “Dandelion,” for instance, several interpretations might apply. “This painting actually represents spring, hope, and youth in a romantic world,” Richer explains. “The young woman is like a flower beneath glass, in the same way we might frame flowers to preserve their color and beauty. Presenting the model behind glass also alludes to the idea of preserving youth. She holds a puffy flower near her mouth as if it were a breath of life, or as if she had made a vow, or held a secret.”
The artist’s affinity for storytelling is complemented by her love of antique and vintage items, fashion, fabric, and jewelry. These accoutrements make regular appearances to further set the stage and context for each narrative. Richer devotes significant time not only to recreating their tactile appearances, but also to transmitting how they feel or what memories they may bring to mind. Not surprisingly, her creative process is time-intensive and requires ample forethought, sometimes up to a year in advance. “My ideas accumulate and become more complex as time passes,” she says. “I often say that a painting comes to fruition as a result of extended meditation.”
To learn more, visit Odile Richer.
This article was featured in the November/December 2017 issue of Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To learn more or subscribe today, visit here.