Michel Tremblay, oil on linen, 46X46 inches, 2018, private collection.

Michel Tremblay, oil on linen, 46X46 inches, 2018, private collection.

Michel Tremblay – A Look of Implacable Tenderness

Visually Michel Tremblay can only be presented frontally, without detour. There is no ambiguity in him, no enigmatic shadow, no artifice.


His world is one recovered from his childhood, family stories painfully familiar, ordinary people with magnified destinies. Michel Tremblay doesn’t try to impress. He doesn’t care. We recognize ourselves in him with a disconcerting acuteness. 

The gaze he places on his gallery of characters—a look of implacable tenderness—the same one he turns toward us. It's more than touching. It's maternal.

It is sacred. 

Through Michel Tremblay, we experience a rare tenderness for ourselves; we become more indulgent towards our ordinary madness. Our awkwardness for living is forgiven. Whether I look at the portrait I painted of him, read one of his books or attend one of his plays, I love myself all the more for it. This humble enchantment is as vital to Quebec as the water flowing in the veins of the St. Lawrence. 

Where It Ended Up

Decidedly, some paintings have sparkling destinies! 

Not only was my portrait of Michel Tremblay acquired by Tremblay himself—which is in and of itself a great honor—but it was also chosen as cover of the book, Chroniques du Plateau Mont-Royal.

These Chronicles are comprised of six novels originally published between 1978 and 1997 and brought together in a single volume by the Thesaurus collection.

The 1,200 pages book was jointly published by Actes Sud in France and Leméac in Quebec.

The stories take place in Tremblay’s favourite neighbourhood and include his typical gallery of characters.

michel tremblay

Now, I wonder. If I were this painting, how many more layers of praise could be bestowed upon me?

I could not dream of better polish, that's for certain. Fair warning to those who risk another compliment. I feel that I have inflated the portrait well beyond what is suitable.

Soon, I’ll fall like the doomed Dorian Gray or worse, my ego will burst.

Prints of this work are available now, as well as on Oil on Print (limited edition, hand-embellished and signed).

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