Symbolism is an important aspect in Nathalie Boissonnault’s narrative and playful pieces. Masterfully weaving together acrylic paintings with collaged maps and text, she explores broad human emotions and ideas through intimate interactions between animals. See inside her riverside Quebec studio space, and hear more about the motifs that repeat throughout her work.
What inspired you to work in collage? How do you choose your materials?
The basis for creating origami is paper, so that’s what prompted me to use paper collage to represent my origami animals. As a collage I generally choose geographical or topographic maps to evoke travel or belonging to a place, and in some cases I will favor texts whose subject will have a link with the title of the work or what I am trying to express through the work.
As for the choice to make my animals look like origami, I didn’t want to paint realistic animals. Origami and balloon animals bring an atmosphere of lightness and a playful character that leave more room for the imagination.
Can you tell us about some of the symbolism found throughout your work?
In general, the graffiti that I paint are rather abstract symbols, a bit like those that can be seen on public surfaces. They always represent a certain chaos without too much meaning. On the other hand, they can reveal a lot about the environment in which they find themselves. In this sense, all the graffiti painted on my animal-origami suggest (a bit like tattoos) the course of life – the experiences, the joys and the wounds that shape individuals throughout their lives.
Heart-shaped balloons of course represent love, a single balloon in a work can represent friendship, sharing or a feeling of lightness and freedom. When there are several balloons, often it symbolizes hope.
The light bulb always has a positive meaning in my works. It represents light and symbolizes audacity, determination, future and hope.
Lightness, happiness, peace, friendship, fragility. They are little guardian angels or fragile little beings who need to be taken care of.
There are many animals that you have used as subjects time and time again —elephants, bears, and dogs, for example. Do any of the animals have special meanings to you?
There are of course certain evocations: the bear = strength, the elephant = wisdom, the dog = friendship, etc. But beyond these symbols, there is more of a transposition of human emotions through these origami animals and balloon animals. In some works I explore relationships of love, friendship, or cooperation through individuals of different species, shapes, natures and colors (origins, languages, ethnicities, colors).