• Stephanie O’Hanley

Book celebrates Séguin Poirier’s love of art and life


Noted Les Cèdres artist Bernard Séguin Poirier signs copies of his newly released biography Symbolisme cosmique written with author Rosette Pipar, at the November 15 book launch.

It’s not easy for a book to reflect a 47-year career. For painter and enameller Bernard Séguin Poirier, who worked with author Rosette Pipar to create Symbolisme cosmique, a biography of his life, it meant finding images that best represent his art works.

“It was a fantastic job, going through 20,000 photos,” Séguin Poirier told friends, family and admirers at a November 15 book launch at his chapel-gallery in his home in Les Cèdres.

Embarking on a biography gave him a chance to take a look back at his life and see the many things he’s done, Séguin Poirier said. “It even helped me understand why I did certain things and what’s amazing is it’s helped me plan the next 40 years of what’s left of my life,” he said to laughter and applause.

When they worked on the book Séguin Poirier said he probably spent more time with Pipar than with his own wife. “I unburdened some tough secrets.” Working with Pipar was a bit like therapy, he said. “There were times when I talked and talked and talked and suddenly she’d ask me a question and then I would continue, talking, talking, talking.”

Pipar said she knew Séguin Poirier for years before writing the book but through the experience got to know him well. “What I find fascinating about Bernard is that he listens to his inner voice.”

Though Séguin Poirier grew up in a family of artists - his father was a goldsmith and his mother a painter and sculptor - when he was 17 he decided not to study in Quebec but traveled to Limoges where he learned the craft of enamelling.

When his inner voice told him he could do something different with pigments and colours, he had plenty of detractors, including the great artisans of Limoges and Quebec artists when he returned here, Pipar said. “Thankfully there were great artists who encouraged him,” she said.

“He’s self-taught and he’s his own university,” said Pipar. “...Putting powdered pigments on copper might seem easy but it’s an art.” Knowing how to apply the pigments is difficult because you don’t see the result until after the work goes into the kiln, she said. “All the colours will be pale,” she said, looking around the room, covered with Séguin Poirier’s works. “Look at what comes of it, it’s truly fascinating.”

Pipar said that when growing up, Séguin Poirier saw people drop by his family home to discuss culture and philosophy and that he developed a curiosity about his surroundings. “What’s fascinated him the most is the cosmos, its light,” she said, noting the origin of the book’s title. “He’s always inspired by the happiness of everyday life... If everyone did this, it would be wonderful.”

“When I was in my late teens my goal was to use the talent I was given to draw real life: love, nature, music, beautiful things to show children there’s good in this world,” Séguin Poirier said. “Today I have that same passion, I haven’t changed a bit. I still want beautiful things in life,” he said, adding that he appreciates the people who help him accomplish just that.­­