'Life is an art'

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Alain Potrel shows new work at Masonic Temple

With a master's degree in volcanology and a phD in Earth sciences, Alain Potrel is not the stereotypical image of an artist.

Not spending days in a studio, instead he works day-to-day in the earth sciences department at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He provides assistance in the labs and teaches students about his chosen specialty.

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With a master's degree in volcanology and a phD in Earth sciences, Alain Potrel is not the stereotypical image of an artist.

Not spending days in a studio, instead he works day-to-day in the earth sciences department at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He provides assistance in the labs and teaches students about his chosen specialty.

When not at the university, Potrel said he feels the need to express himself, to take out his oil paints and create - mainly artwork in an abstract expressionist style. Basically, paintings focused on, say, colour instead of an exact representation of an object. Think Mark Rothco and Jackson Pollock.

Potrel has displayed his own work around the world. His latest exhibition, an untitled show, will open Sunday in St. John's at the Masonic Temple on Cathedral Street, in the midst of the Hearts for Haiti fundraiser.

"My paintings will be part of the fundraiser," Potrel told The Telegram Wednesday.

Ten per cent of his artist's commission for the works will be donated.

Painting less than five years, Potrel already has a long list of exhibitions to his credit. The exhibitions were mainly at galleries in Canada (St. John's and Montreal), but also in St. Pierre et Miquelon, Miami and Paris.

"I have to paint," he said. "I just paint my life, and life is an art."

As for exhibiting?

"I've got to put them somewhere at some point."

Potrel said he enjoys the reactions and the feedback he gets from visitors to his exhibitions as they see his work.

Of course, the art world is still relatively new to Potrel.

He was born in Granville in Normandy, France, in April of 1964.

"I stayed in France until the end of my phD in Earth Sciences," Potrel said. "In 1995 I went away from France for the first time as I was hired by a Peruvian gold mine; I stayed five months in the Peruvian Andes. Then I started a two years and a half contract as a visiting lecturer at the Federal University of Brasilia (in Brazil).

"I arrived in Canada in 1999, first for a three-year contract at the University of Quebec in Montreal and then at Memorial University," he said. This is where Potrel lives, "for the moment."

Potrel has never received classical training as an artist, but started to paint in September of 2005 and continues to develop his work through a trial and error learning approach that has worked so far.

The latest exhibition featuring Potrel's work will continue through Feb. 6. His work is also scheduled to be part of a multi-artist exhibition at Galerie Art Present in Paris, France from Feb. 27 to March 10.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Memorial University of Newfoundland, Hearts for Haiti, Earth Sciences Federal University of Brasilia University of Quebec

Geographic location: France, St. John's, Canada Montreal Paris Miquelon Miami Granville Normandy Brazil

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