Danièle Rochon (1946 –)

Danièle Rochon was born in Ottawa. While visiting the city’s National Gallery as a young girl, a series of paintings entitled The Three Gardens by Québec artist Alfred Pellan had a profound impact on Rochon, planting a seed of inspiration that would later grow into the desire to become a painter herself.

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Rochon’s extensive formal education began with a Baccalauréat-des-Arts degree from Collège Jésus-Marie in Québec City. She then studied for three years at Laval University to obtain a Masters degree in Political Science; ultimately, she wanted to attend the School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York. Life had other plans, however, and she and her husband, Gerard––both students at Laval University––decided to get married. They moved to Montréal and, as Rochon herself has said, “all the goals changed.” As this new chapter in her life began, she spent many years working in public relations and creative advertising, as well as producing and copywriting for a Montreal news station. However, it was the death of her father that underscored the fleeting nature of life, and this served as a catalyst in her decision to finally pursue her love of painting.


In 1975, Rochon enrolled at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, where she studied for three years and spent many dedicated hours in the studio. She went on to receive three additional years of training at the Saidye Bronfman School of Arts and the Graff Studio of engraving in Montréal. During this time she also managed to obtain a translation degree at McGill University in order to pay for paintbrushes and tubes of paint. She spent seven years continuing her artistic research, eventually selecting pastels and oil as her media of expression.


Her career as an artist flourished from 1982 onwards, with more than forty national and international solo exhibitions and more than seventy collective exhibitions. This catapulted her into the limelight and she became established in key markets like New York and San Francisco. Prominent commissions soon followed. She designed and created costumes and décor for the opera Vaugirard in New York City, and was commissioned to create Hymne à la vie, a vast painting on a vaulted ceiling in Québec City.


In 1987, Rochon undertook the making of numerous lithographs at the studios of Pierre Chave and Bjorn Hansen at Vence in the south of France. She made a series of lithographs for the art book La Nuit by Claire Dé, a limited edition that was published by Art Global. In 1992, Rochon was elected as a member of Canada’s most enduring cultural institution, The Royal Canadian Academy of Art.


During these years of intense creative work, Rochon was constantly searching for ways of developing light in her painting through the varied use of pure colour in its multiple combinations as a means of expression. At the beginning of her career, the use of pastel seemed to satisfy this constant search for contrast and movement, and her work in this medium was prolific. Indeed, her work in pastel was discussed in Robert Bernier’s book Un Siècle de peinture au Québec, or A Century of Painting in Quebec, published in 1999.


Always in search of different light and thirsting for new cultures, Rochon worked in France and other European countries. Her travels led her throughout Asia and Africa, from Argentina to Uruguay. These new cultures had a direct impact on her work, which was now infused with new sensual, vibrant images, evocative of places visited and remembered. She had numerous solo exhibitions of her work in Europe, particularly in Paris, Barcelona, and Copenhagen. As her stature grew in this market, more high profile commissions followed, including an impressive project for the Roman church in Viens, Provence: an oil on canvas triptych entitled Un Chemin de la Croix that measured a grand 84″ x 120″.


In addition to much time spent in France, Rochon cites the French master painters Claude Monet and Henri Matisse as strong influences. “The simple lines of the masters are a great school for an artist,” she has said. Rochon also admires the work of American painter Joan Mitchell and Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky.


For more than twenty years, Rochon has shared her work between studios in Montréal and Provence. She notes that after settling down for most of the year in the south of France, she now feels in sync with her surroundings. Art, poetry, and sketchbooks are her constant companions in her desire to create. She prefers to use acrylic paint now as she finds this new medium offers a range that can be used to create new colours that display a richness similar to oils.


In 2010, Rochon took her creativity outdoors with an invitation by the winery L’Orpailleur to create a Land Art Exhibition on their fifteen-hectare Québec estate, in celebration of the winery’s thirtieth anniversary. Rochon had long held an interest in marrying art and wine and was energized by the project. Using sculpture in circular, triangular, and square shapes, she provided a new interpretation of the land. She set out to interrupt the flatness of the geography with large aluminum sculpture, arches, and a mosaic composed of thousands of painted corks. The show received international acclaim and was written about in the Québec publication L’Actualité and the Montréal-based art magazine Parcours des Arts. Robert Bernier, owner and editor of Parcours des Arts, wrote that Rochon “works directly on the landscapes as an integral part of a vast world that seems chaotic in many regards, but also reveals itself in an organized and coherent reality, like in her paintings.”


Rochon’s dynamic career reflects her effusively creative spirit. While she has ventured into various mediums, her work has been dominated by themes that fascinate her: water, stone, and nature’s most intimate, hidden secrets. She continues her search for more light, sometimes filtered or radiant, expressing its inherent beauty in all of her creations.