Paperboat, Mr. M Series acrylic on wood panel by artist Soizick Meister Like a Tree, Clearcut Mr. M Series acrylic on wood panel by artist Soizick Meister Departure, Travelling Mr. M Series acrylic on wood panel by artist Soizick Meister Where is the Bird, Mr. M Series acrylic on wood panel by artist Soizick Meister Stranded, Time Carrier Mr. M Series acrylic on wood panel by artist Soizick Meister Opening Mr. M Series acrylic on wood panel by artist Soizick Meister

"ROCKS and SKY" July 26 - Aug. 17, 2008

Soizick Meister has been painting the figure of Mr. M for many years, and in this body of work continues her homage to the surrealists by placing this uncertain, exploring dreamer into contemplative and humorous situations within the BC landscape. Mr. M represents the universal desire to come to know ourselves in the face of the enormity of the world. Mr. M is sometimes melancholy and uncertain, sometimes sentimental - we see memories of childhood made visible by Meister's brush, revealing a duality of vision many of us share by reaching for our hopes while remembering a simpler past. Mr. M is acutely aware of the beauty of the world around him, both welcoming and sometimes overwhelming. A transplant from somewhere else, he is a traveler in both mind and space, pursuing the sometimes conflicting pleasures of exploration and the wish to put down roots.

Rebecca Bishop, Curator of Jacana Gallery, Summer, 2008

Click here to see the "Mr. M" galleries.

A Quiet Contemplation Mr. M and the Work of Soizick Meister

Beginning as humble and intimate 10 x 10 woodblock works, Meister's first series featured Mr. M in unexplainable, often metaphysical situations. In one frame, the enigmatic character finds himself wandering into the heavens ("On Clouds, 2007") or rooted to the earth ("Like a Tree, 2007"); while in another, he walks a path through the depths of a barren forest ("Clearcut, 2007�).

With such inscrutable imagery, it is no wonder Meister's work has often been likened to the Surrealist masters of the early 20th century. Having been born and raised in Brittany, France, and having resided in various parts of Europe, may account for the Meister's distinctive Western fine art style. The deliberate lack of perspectival space, not to mention the character of Mr. M, reminds one of the work of Rene Magritte. Meister's move to Vancouver, BC in 2000, came as an important change to her life and her work. Along with Meister, Mr. M too, travelled, changed and settled to adapt to the Westcoast surroundings.

This concept is especially prominent in her second body of work in the Mr. M succession. One cannot help but be reminded of English Bay when looking at the distant barges in "Departure, 2007" or identify the tall coniferous trees that often foreground each piece with Vancouver's natural geography. Although the Canadian landscape has definitely made its presence clear in Meister's work, she is not limited by it. The paintings still retain the ambiguity of their Surrealist influences. In "Where is the Bird? 2007" for instance, we panoramically see multiple Mr. M's fused to the roots of trees as though they too, have sprung from the earth. Moreover, Meister is hesitant to explain the meaning behind the work, insisting that each viewer's interpretation is as valid as her own. What is clear however is that subtlety remain the upmost important factor in order that each image's narrative be as personal and as specific to the viewer as it is to Meister herself. Having spoken to Meister on a number of occasion, I speculate that the work is of much greater significance than I could have ever imagined, representing a journey that is personal to Meister's story but also universal to the psychological journey of anyone who is searching for something greater than themselves.

It is with this in mind that the current Mr. M collection, "Rocks and Sky", must be viewed. For there is a considerable shift that I have observed having had the privilege of witnessing Mr. M's journey thus far. That is that the paintings exhibit a sudden stillness unseen up to this point. Until now, the journey of Mr. M has echoed the burden of time ("Time Carrier, 2008"), the heaviness of memory ("Stranded, 2008") and the inevitable need to move onward ("Moonlit Path, 2008"). The work has always prompted the viewer to question Mr. M's motives. What is he waiting for? Who or what is he trying to find? And where is his final destination?

Having given new meaning to the word "baggage" it seems our Mr. M has finally cast anchor in this new work. We see him resting his feet in shallow waters, taking a breather in the shade, reading a book in the company of crows and contemplating the vastness of the sea. This desire to pause can perhaps be attributed to his surroundings. Must there be a reason to appreciate the finer details of living? The questions that once swirled around Mr. M's journey's purpose fall into quiet comprehension with this series. The answer is clear. It is sights such as these that remind us of the need to reconcile the past, the importance of contemplating the current and the will to persist onwards despite the unknown.

Whether or not Mr. M has settled for good, one cannot know for certain. For the dreamlike quality Meister has given Mr. M demands anonymity, ambiguity and mystery. How else could one capture a figure that embodies everyone and no one?

Pennylane J. Shen, Curator of Jacana Gallery, Summer, 2008

Click here to see the "Mr. M" galleries.