Denise Buisman Pilger: Just like starting over

by Julie Ledoux - April 12, 2011

Denise Buisman Pilger: Bringing the world to Montréal through art  Photo: Julie Ledoux

Denise Buisman Pilger: Bringing the world to Montréal through art
Photo: Julie Ledoux

Denise Buisman Pilger's Travelling the World series finds a home at the Mile-End Gallery

Established since 2009 in Dollard-des-Ormeaux in northwestern Montreal, Dutch artist Denise Buisman Pilger recently created a new set of artworks blending painting and photography in which she recreates North American cities such as Montreal, New York, Vancouver and Baltimore. Every city that crossed her path was seen as a potential piece of art.

Having done a collective show in Pierrefonds last year and currently being a resident at a Pointe-Claire gallery, Buisman Pilger has already managed to establish herself in the West Island. But despite her attraction to the cozy western neighbourhoods, the excitement of Mile End has now reached her – 28 of her pieces are currently filling the walls of the Mile-End Gallery. "It’s a combination of photo collage and acrylics, on either canvas or wood panels, and I transfer the photographs through an acrylic gel. I used to just put the photographs on the canvas, but there were some issues," she says. "I want to see it as I witnessed it while I was travelling. As a traveller, you have a unique perspective on the places you visit. So I ended up with what you could basically call an acrylic painting, but because it’s still photographs that I’m using, I tend to call it mixed media."

As a newcomer to Montreal, Buisman Pilger had to start from scratch… again. "It’s weird how easy it is to pick up your entire life and start over somewhere else. It’s so easy and freeing, as well. You can kind of reinvent your life! You meet so many cool people and it’s so refreshing to step into a different culture."


After three years spent in Fort Worth, Texas, Denise and her husband moved north to Quebec’s busiest city. While enthusiastic about beginning a new life in Montreal, the graphic designer by day was also overwhelmed by the work she had to accomplish as an artist. "Montreal is kind of a tough city to get into, art wise, especially when you’re new in town. I hadn’t done any solo shows [yet] because I’m still beginning. I had to figure out what I wanted to do in a city where I didn’t have any contacts."

Denise Buisman Pilger eventually did find a bit of outside help. "I first went to the English Language Arts Network and became a member, and I also found a mentor at YES Montreal. The people there really helped me get to know the area and the places. I couldn’t have done it without them. It’s really helpful just to have somebody who’s there to answer your questions!"

Despite the rough start, Buisman Pilger is now in a good position to show the world how she works and what she saw in every corner of every city she visited. "In this day and age, it’s easier for an artist to get noticed internationally. Sure, you need to know where the galleries are, but you also need a network. That’s why it was hard for me here, because I didn’t go to art school here, and I didn’t know anyone! It’s easier today for me to go up to people and introduce myself as an artist. It gets easier with time…"

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Travelling the World
At Mile-End Gallery (5354 Parc Avenue), until April 23