St. Laurent seen through the eyes of a globetrotter

François Lemieux
Publié le 26 février 2014

Netherlands-born arist creates synthetic borough portrait encompassing major landmarks

For years there has always been lots of talk about the best way to integrate immigrants to their welcoming society. Denise Buisman Pilger is originally from the Netherlands. When she came to Montreal five years ago as she followed her often-relocating husband around the world, she took it upon herself to really get to know the island. She used her creative curiosity as an artist to enrich her perspective as a new Montrealer.

She settled in Pierrefonds but she decided to create 34 artworks to portray the various boroughs and demerged cities on the island.

Buisman Pilger combines her love of photography, painting to create amalgamated pictures of the various boroughs and cities. Her works are a somewhat surreal superimposition of the most recognizable architectural elements of each city and arranged at unusual angles, irregular scale and not necessarily in their true-to-life configuration.

She mainly uses digital photo manipulation, image transfer, acrylic photomontages and acrylic paints/mediums. Her pieces are often black and white with minimalist colour accents, while others abound with colour.

St. Laurent

She usually starts off the creative process with a long walk in the borough or city she wants to portray. St. Laurent being a fairly large place, it took a while for the artist to explore it.

“St. Laurent is one of the largest boroughs on the island; it took me a full day to explore it. I covered most of it by car, parking frequently to take small walks through different neighborhoods. I discovered that St. Laurent has large industrial areas, Technoparc Montreal and the Bombardier plant take up large amounts of space,” she said.

She was pleasantly surprised when she wandered into the newly developed Bois Franc area.

“It is like a little oasis in the middle of the borough, where you can almost imagine yourself to be in a quiet rural area. One of the highlights for me were the beautiful CEGEP buildings off of Ste. Croix Boulevard, I didn’t know about those and when I discovered them I knew they would definitely be part of the painting (something that isn’t always obvious right away),” she said.

Buisman Pilger also chose some other personal favourites in terms of buildings in her painting, namely the Guzzo theatre near highway 40 where she spent her first few evenings with her husband when she first got to the city five years ago. Some other recognizable borough elements show up in her work.

“I wanted to create a representation of the borough as a whole so I tried to capture all of the boroughs elements, there are parts of the Bois Franc park-like area, I included some of the high-rises, the power lines that run along Thimens Boulevard and many other elements that struck me as interesting. I also included the St. Laurent logo which is displayed all throughout the borough,” she said.

Buisman Pilger has already sold many of her borough/city artworks but you can see them all by purchasing the book she published recently, which features illustrations of all the Montreal borough/city works. You can find more information on her work at