Elaine Despins

Home: Montreal, QC
Title: Inward Gaze
Media: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 106.68 x 76.2 cm
Website: elainedespins.com

Artist Statement

My work is rooted in an ontological perspective, a fascination for what is at the heart of existence. My background comes from the fine art tradition of painting and my pictures are set within the contemporary expression of the figure. My intuitive practice accompanied by an investigative gaze into the compelling mysterious ground of Being is what drives my work. I realize that to create work that invites awe and wonderment — at a time when the popular and approved styles of contemporary art focus toward a strong cerebral discourse — can be perceived as a subversive act.

Inward Gaze is a portrait of my mother, four months prior to her death. The progressive withdrawal from the outside world accompanied by her tender surrender toward the inexorable rhythm of life can be seen in her almost fully closed eyes and her clasped hands in the foreground. This hand gesture particularly appealed to me as a form of double portrait and as a symbol of her holding on to the only tangible element that was present in her last moments of her life.


Over the course of years, Elaine Despins’ professional international career in animation (direction, character design and animation) has been interspersed with periods of intense passion for and activity in drawing and painting. Since 2,000, she has been committed to an independent and full time studio practice. Despins’ paintings has been shown across Canada and the US and her work can be found in private as well as public collections. She has received grants from both the Canada Council for the Arts of Canada and the international Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant in recognition of her work. Elaine Despins completed her European, Berlin based, master’s degree in fine arts and new media arts in the summer of 2010. Her studio practice encompasses oil painting, charcoal drawing and pastel.


2010 Transart Institute New Media, Danube University Krems, Austria MFA and New Media

Solo Exhibitions
2019 Nocturnes Series, Galerie 2112, Montréal, QC
2008 Edward Day Gallery, The Virgin Mary Series, Toronto, ON
2007 Dominique Bouffard Gallery, The Sea Inside, Montréal, QC
2005 Edward Day Gallery, Toronto, ON
2005 St-Laurent + Hill Gallery, Ottawa, ON
2004 Maison de la Culture Frontenac, Montréal, QC

Group Exhibitions
2018 Enduring Brilliance, Pastel Society of America (PSA), New York, NY
2018 IV Spain International Pastel Biennial, Oviedo, Spain
2017 Les Pastellistes, Pastel Society of Eastern Canada (PSEC), Montréal
2017 Enduring Brilliance, Pastel Society of America (PSA), New York, NY
2016 The IAPS Twenty-Eighth Juried Exhibition, Salmagundi Club, NY
2013 Women Painting Women, Richard J Demato Fine Arts Gallery, Hamptons, NY
2011 Papiers 11, Contemporary Art Fair of Works of Paper, Montréal

Professional Experience
2011-2019 Museum of Fine Arts, Montréal Art Instructor
2015-2019 Visual Art Centre, Westmount, QC Art Instructor
2017 FigureWorks 2017 Ottawa Juror
2016 The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) Artist Talk (Philadelphia)

2018 Vermont Studio Center Residency, Johnson, VT Vermont Merit Grant
2017 The Pastel Society of America (PSA), NY Rembrandt Material Award
2016 International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS), NY First Prize – Prix du Pastel
2015 The Pastel Society of Eastern Canada (PSEC), MTL First Prize
2015 The Pastel Society of America (PSA), NY Silver Award
2008 The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant/Painting
2004 The Canada Council for the Arts Grant/Painting

The Pastel Journal (2017), La Vie des Arts (2004,2006 and 2007) The Ottawa Citizen (2005),
The National Post (2005), The Gazette (2004).