If you’ve wandered the streets of Winnipeg, you’ve likely seen some of Michel Saint Hilaire’s work. An accomplished muralist, the Winnipeg artist also creates arresting contemporary pieces that blend seemingly disparate media, inspiration, style, and emotion into an incredible whole.
Michel found his calling in grade school and spent years honing his ability, drawing floor plans of houses and classic cars, a precursor to the architecturally influenced style of his later work. After two years of University training in Fine Arts, where he was taught by renowned Winnipeg artist Ivan Eyre, he began selling his art and painting murals full time.
Though he originally worked solely in pencil, Michel now blends media, usually pencil and acrylic, to create a layered effect punched with contemporary flourishes of line and colour.
His latest work was inspired by a 3 week residency in Moncton, NB, during which time he painted roughly 20 portraits of community members. He became enthralled with the unique qualities and complexity of faces, and set out to recreate the experiment with Winnipeg muses. The resulting exhibit, which begins in January, originally featured members of the city’s French speaking arts community, but has evolved to include portraits of famous figures, a mannequin, and the likeness of reclusive photographer Vivian Meier, whose work was recently discovered posthumously. “I started from a place of nurturing my home and community,” says Michel, “Then expanded to painting people that I don’t know, then to pieces that touch on global and environmental issues.”