Marcel Dargis was born during the Depression in the parish of Saint-Lazare, in the town of Cap-de-la-Madeleine in 1928. He’s lived his entire 84 years in this town, the first 34 years in the parish of Saint-Lazare and the remaining 46 years in the parish of Sainte-Bernadette. His art, over 750 canvases, is a very unique and exceptional recollection of life in his parish of Saint-Lazare as he perceived it in the first 34 years of his life, specifically the late 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, a period that was conservative, nationalistic and traditional.
The experiences of Marcel Dargis are a mirror, a reflection of life in other francophone parishes at that time, especially those situated outside urban and Anglophone centers. He has used his talent as an artist to tell his story, to engage with the past. He has preserved a part of our heritage and of our culture and has made an important contribution in protecting our cultural patrimoine in Quebec.
Self taught, he only started to seriously paint his naive canvasses in 1968 at the age of 40 when he finally made a commitment to this art form. Through 1957 and 1958, Dargis experimented with different schools of art. Initially, he focused his efforts in painting abstracts. He then moved on to realism and surrealism to end up with what you might call naive realism.
Dargis decided to concentrate his efforts on painting the many stories and narratives of his community, his parish of Saint-Lazare, and that was the start of a lifelong undertaking and commitment which continues to this very day. Dargis possesses this innate ability to remember the past and transfer those experiences to a canvas. This is his view of the past, drawing a clear distinction from the present day. What is really remarkable is his ability to concentrate on a singular theme for over 35 years and continue to create and produce art which is original and inspiring.
Marcel has taken part in six solo exhibitions, five in Trois-Rivières, in 1981, 1986, 1995, 2001 and 2011 and one in Sorel in 1983. His 2001 exhibition at the Musée Pierre-Boucher centered on Les Contes et les Légendes du Québec, paintings on well known stories and legends that are part of Quebec’s culture and heritage. He’s also participated in innumerable group exhibitions. Many corporations as well as many private collectors from Europe, the United States and Canada, have collected his art. Dearest to his heart, UNICEF selected one of his paintings on three separate occasions for their well known Chrismas card collection.
Dargis sees himself as a story teller using a brush.
Galerie Jeannine Blais, North Hatley, Québec