New Brunswick

Mathieu Francoeur celebrates new exhibit after beating cancer

Acadian painter Mathieu Francoeur is celebrating a new lease on life as a successful artist after a move to Calgary was cut short by diagnosis of testicular cancer, forcing the young man to return home to Moncton to start treatment.

Moncton artist's latest exhibit 'Remission' is on display in Moncton until mid-September

Mathieu Francoeur is celebrating a new lease on life as a successful artist after a move to Calgary was cut short by a diagnosis of testicular cancer. (Matt Tunnacliffe/CBC)

Mathieu Francoeur is celebrating a new lease on life as a successful artist after a move to Calgary was cut short by diagnosis of testicular cancer, forcing the young man to return home to Moncton to start treatment.

The painter calls the experience overwhelming.

"Having so many raw emotions inside, your family, they soak it in," he said.

"It was definitely a smack in the face and a wake-up call. I'm 28 years old, you never expect it when you're young. We take our health for granted."

To help cope, he started making art.

"I just needed a place where I could evade, I didn't have to put on a game face, I could just take a brush and make it happen,"he said.

The University of Moncton graduate finished his bachelor of visual arts degree in 2010.

But he was planning to be a boilermaker in Calgary. His illness forced him return to his roots as an artist.

"It was out of sheer panic too, because I realized I would not be able to work during the summer and the bills are accumulating and I had just paid for flights and had completely changed my life around," he said.

"I needed something, so I said, 'Hey, I could try to make some paintings and sell them.' Then I found it was very, very therapeutic too."

The work he made while battling his illness resulted in a sold out show at the Aberdeen Cultural Centre. He discovered the day of the opening that he was in remission.

"It was a good escape," he said.

"A good way to create some beauty out of something that was not so fun."

Francoeur works with with recycled material, he says it's a good fit.

"Instead of having canvas, I have some shelves that I found at the hospital while I was doing my treatments," he said.

"They're rusty and old and I felt rusty and old last summer."

That was more than a year ago. His newest exhibit opened on Tuesday at the Aberdeen Cultural Centre.

Francoeur is leaving at the end of the week for a residency at the Banff Centre, a nationally renowned arts centre, with upcoming exhibits planned in Saint John, Fredericton and Miramichi at the local francophone high schools.

Remission will be on display in Moncton until mid-September.

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