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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Sitdown with Sylvain Malfroy-Camine


Photo courtesy of Sylvain Malfroy-Camine

In this issue’s edition of “The Sitdown,” Mass Media had the opportunity to meet with honors art student and President of the University of Massachusetts Boston Art Union, Sylvain Malfroy-Camine. During the interview, Malfroy-Camine talked about his honors project, his methodology toward painting, and the inspiration that lures him to the canvas.

“I started painting when I was 19,” he stated. However, he was able to track his allure to the paintbrush to his childhood when he recalled, “My parents had this painting of this [Henri] Matisse drawing.”

When asked what year he was in college, Malfroy-Camine grinned, saying, “The short answer is senior. The long answer is super-senior. I’m an art major.”

When asked whether he ever considered taking a minor, Malfroy-Camine said, “I initially wanted to double major with music.” However, due to the maze-like nature of college transfer policies which many of us can attest to, Malfroy-Camine opted to forego that venture, saying, “the way things lined up and for me, personally, doing both, academically, it didn’t really make sense after a certain point.”

When asked to talk more about his art projects, Malfroy-Camine stated, “I’m working on an honors project right now,” and took the time to explain how it came about.

“[This project] was presented to me as a possibility by one of my professors. I decided to take that project on. I started it last fall [and will be] wrapping it up this May.”

He continued, “The project culminates in a solo exhibition of the work I’ve produced. And will be work mostly in the painting medium.”

Specifically, Malfroy-Camine said, he is interested in “small-scale works, which explore portraits or figuration, with obstructions.” Which, as the young Francophone painter explained in regards to his work, means, “concealing the eyes behind two objects…images which tease out the difference of genre boundaries in painting.”

Not stopping there, he continued, “For instance, is it a portrait when there’s a flower in there or is it more of a still life?”

A valid question indeed, one Malfroy-Camine’s artwork will force all who attend his exhibition at the University Hall Gallery to ponder come this May.

During the interview, Malfroy-Camine touched on his other related activities as well. “I work with that very same gallery [Universal Hall Gallery] as a gallery attendant and assistant, as a work-study.”

As if that weren’t impressive enough, Malfroy-Camine mentioned, “I’m also working with the artist Todd Pavlisko. He’s a professor at Brandeis [University] and a New York-based artist, who I’m interning with as his assistant in various projects and whatnot.”

When asked about his methodology for painting, he said, “It depends on what’s being painted and what I’m trying to put in a picture format. Part of [my] methodology is, before I paint anything, I write it out or I figure how out [I’m going to] do it. Otherwise, in a sense, with this type of painting it’s kind of a waste of time. Because I’m going to make a mistake in terms of composition.”

Mafroy-Camine’s plan for graduation, he states, is to be “the person who sweeps in an art gallery, that’s cool. I love that. I’ll be the gallery janitor. [Ultimately] if I can, I’ll aim to stay in that world.”

However, knowing financial necessity is critical to any purpose of being, Malfroy-Camine explained, “So that’s one side of the coin. The other side is I love education. I love being involved in sharing knowledge. I’d really love to teach [art] at the university level.”

Among the many influences that accompany any painting enthusiast, Malfroy-Camine knew exactly what his were. “I’m really influenced by typography or Byzantine art.”

He added, in response to who he looks up to, “Someone who’s come up lately is Philip Guston. He’s just got this really quirky and fun, quasi-demented style that he developed over the years, that kind of resembles cartoon language.”

Malfroy-Camine continued, “Its kind of fun when you see painters who paint like that. But then you look at when they were kids [and] they were painting incredibly genius, detailed things.”
Malfroy-Camine seems to be making the right brush-strokes in his path toward a career as professional painter or art educator. Or, perhaps, both. Only time will tell.