When Serge Brunoni (1938-2020) arrived in Quebec, a career in the arts was the last of his concerns. Like most immigrants of his day, a new land meant new challenges, the unknown and a fresh start.
Of course, like many immigrants, this was not his first challenge.
Born in France just before the Second World War, his early childhood was obviously marked by the uncertainties and privations inherent to the occupation of his country. This did not prevent little Serge from discovering a passion and a talent for drawing that he practiced furiously throughout his childhood.
Like all the young French men of his time, Brunoni had to go through military service, a task he accomplished with pleasure seeing it as an adventure.
Following his service, he joined the Society of Works and Topographic Studies (S.A.T.E.T.), which worked on the construction of a railroad in Africa. He would spend three years living in the jungle, happy to indulge in his taste for adventure. To this day, he still regales everyone who would listen with anecdotes on the subject!
He arrived in Quebec in 1963 and, following the advice of local people, chose Trois-Rivières as his home port. In the years that followed, Brunoni worked in different jobs ranging from cook to encyclopedia salesman.
It is in 1969 that his wife offers him a box of colors and brushes and that he discovers what will become his passion; his reason for living. He became a professional painter from 1972.
Brunoni draws his influences from several sources. A scholar of art and philosophy, he uses his knowledge and his thirst for new ideas to reach creative summits that have been constantly renewed for fifty years now!
For the casual spectator, it may looks like the artist is sticking to some older artistic conventions and principles. That would be grossly misunderstanding the work of a painter for whom the poetry of his adopted country is constantly reborn in artistic explorations that owe as much to American impressionism as to expressionist painters such as Kandinsky or Alwar Cawén.
His vision of Quebec’s great outdoors may be reminiscent of René Richard, but the economy of means he is able to demonstrate brings him closer to Elaine de Kooning or even minimalist painters, taking a page from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s “less is more” philosophy… In fact, with Brunoni, the immediacy of the gesture betrays poetry while retaining the essential of a well thought out artistic approach. The apparent free form of Brunoni’s painting is firmly anchored in a cerebral understanding art into an apparently playful and almost automatic approach.
His interpretation of the city betrays the love / hate relationship he maintains with major cities. The busy tangle of actors in the moments he stages, the complex and sometimes almost anarchic compositions that populate the immense paintings he favors and the apparent casualness that transpires from Brunoni’s urban work bring the viewer to an almost claustrophobic pictorial universe that reveal the artist’s need for wide open spaces.
For those who have the pleasure and the honor of knowing Serge Brunoni, he is an inspiration and a source of questions ever renewed. Generous by nature, he never hesitates to share his latest discoveries, readings and reflections on literally ALL topics!
Unfortunately, a declining health and the fact that he has now reached the age of eighty have made this prolific artist slow down his artistic production. In 2019, however, he continues to amaze by the youth of his brushes and the vivacity of his soul.
History will surely tell us, but a retrospective view of Brunoni’s work easily suggests that he will be one of the few artists to have marked Quebec’s art history and his work will remain in the annals of art long after he is gone.
His work is present in many galleries throughout Canada, all over the world and in a vast number of private and public collections.
Serge left us after a long illness on February 19th 2020.
Other available paintings by Serge Brunoni
Serge Brunoni in the media