Dominic Besner

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Dominic Besner
Dominic Besner Profile Photo.jpg
Nationality Canadian
Notable work Painting & prints

Dominic Besner (1965) or "Besner" is a Canadian artist known for colourful and textured paintings of masked figures. His work was featured at the Canadian pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China, and Besner has exhibited throughout Canada, in United States, Mexico and Morocco.

Early life[edit]

Besner was born and raised in the farming community of North Lancaster, Ontario. While studying architecture at Algonquin College in Ottawa, and at the University of Montreal, he developed a passion for drawing.[1] Graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1992, Besner worked at several Montreal architectural firms before turning to art full-time. His first solo exhibit was held at Naomi Gallery (Montreal) in 1995.


Fascinated by Montreal nightlife, Besner painted street performers and actors. By 1996, white-faced figures painted in rich, textured costumes emerged as his signature subject. Likened to figures by Edvard Munch and Gustav Klimt,[2] these masked characters simultaneously emerge from and fade into the background.

Besner’s unique style has been credited to his architectural training and, in particular, to urban architect Aldo Rossi’s merger of interior and exterior space.[3] Using a mixed-media technique of acrylics, oils, and oil sticks on canvas as well as structural mortar, china marker and aerosol paint on canvas, Besner energizes aristocrats, horses, bulls, or cityscapes with overlapping lines, patterns and planes. Parcours editor Robert Bernier notes Besner’s ”tremendous capacity to renew contemporary artistic expression while remaining deeply embedded in artistic transition ...”.[4]

Mensi & Rioux[edit]

In 1996 Besner met Michael Mensi of the art-management agency Mensi & Rioux. Under his direction, Besner exhibited at Galerie MX (Montreal), throughout Canada and internationally in Morocco and China. Mensi & Roux has also published several books on the artist: Dominic Besner (1993-2000) for exhibitions at Iris Gallery (Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec) and Saint-Dizier Gallery (Montreal), Dominic Besner (2000-2004) for the CDP Capital Centre (Montreal) and, in 2010, Hundred words for China for exhibitions at Galerie MX and Can Art gallery (Beijing, China).

2000 - 2009[edit]

In November 2003, Besner participated in the group exhibition ”Voilà Québec en México!” at the University of Guadalajara (Mexico). Invited by Cirque du Soleil in 2004 to exhibit at their headquarters, Besner created 20 large-format (48 x 30) paintings and three scale models for the exposition “La Xe cité révolue”. In November 2004, “La démesure des convoités”, opened at the CDP Capital Centre (Montreal). Curated by Christian Verronneau, the opening was attended by over 2,000 guests. In 2006, Besner painted the fresco La mécanique des Villes at the Montreal headquarters of the Cirque du Soleil. The making of the mural was also the subject of the 2008 documentary by Pierre Bundock and François Arsenault.

In January 2007, Besner exhibited at the museum, La Villa des Arts, in Casablanca, Morocco. Inspired by the colours and scents of Morocco,[5] he then painted the series “Le Banquet de Nacarat” for an October exhibition at the Venise Cadre gallery (Casablanca), This show inspired Moroccan designers, Karim Tassi, Albert Oiknine and Mohamed Lakhdar, to create caftans based on Besner’s Art. First exhibited in Casablanca and then Rabat, the fashion show developed into a traveling exhibit, “Au fils de l’art”. First exhibited in Canada at Galerie MX (Montreal), in 2008, it opened in Toronto and in Calgary at the Thompson Landry Gallery.

In 2009, Besner began to exhibit regularly at Galerie V Trimont (Westmount), the first art gallery to permanently designate a room for his work.[6]

2010 -[edit]

In May, Besner exhibited two works at the Canadian pavilion during Shanghai World Expo 2010 (China). In September, he participated at the Western China International Art Biennale, and in a group show at Saatchi Gallery (London) in October. This was followed by the solo exhibitions “Hundred Words Made for China” at Galerie MX (Montreal) and, in November, “Hundred words for China” at Can Art gallery (Beijing).

In November 2011, Mensi & Rioux produced “MORA”, an interactive presentation of Besner’s first novella and art. Conceived by former Cirque du Soleil art director, Guy Caron,[7] the event was directed by Danielle de Bellefeuille assisted by College LaSalle students. Over 1,000 guests attended the event at the Côte-des-Neiges Armoury (Montreal).

In June 2012, Dominic Besner exhibited three works painted in Morocco at the First Biennale Internationale Casablanca.[8] In April 2013, Besner’s paintings of the legendary Mortalia, Empress of Gaur, opened at Galerie MX (Montreal). Entitled “Immortalis”, and in November at the Suzhou Museum in China.



  1. ^ Burnett, David. Dominic Besner (1993-2000) Mensi & Rioux, Montreal 2000, p12. ISBN 978-2-980-6724-0-8
  2. ^ Mills, Michael. “Driven to Abstraction”, Broward/Palm New Times, Sep. 27 2001. Web
  3. ^ Lussier, Jocelyn. Dominic Besner (1993-2000) Mensi & Rioux, Montreal 2000, p111. ISBN 978-2-980-6724-0-8
  4. ^ Bernier, Robert. “Unbounded Access”, Parcours information des arts, automne 2004, p16.
  5. ^ Galerie MX, entry[permanent dead link] Web.
  6. ^ Black. Heather. Westmount Independent, 15 Sept. 2009, p.23
  7. ^ Bernier, Robert. Parcours Arts, vol.16 no.1, p.40 Web Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine..
  8. ^ First Biennale Internationale Casablanca 2012. Web Archived July 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

  • Dominic Besner, official website [1]
  • Djogo, Martina (29 November 2007) De la toile au tissu published by Communications Voir.
  • Mills, Michael (27 September 2001). Driven to Abstraction published by New Times Broward/Palm Beach.
  • Mensi-Rioux, Montreal, Quebec, artist agency [2]
  • Galerie MX, Montreal, Quebec, artist representation [3]
  • Las Olas Fine Arts Gallery, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, artist representation [4]
  • Galerie V Trimont, Westmount, Quebec, artist representation [5]
  • Chatar, Khadija (September 2008) [6] published by L'Express de Toronto
  • Bernier, Robert (September 2011) [7] by Parcours Art et Art de vivre