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A poet first and foremost, AJ AuCoin’s evocative multi-layered paintings on cardboard and canvas are designed to enhance and adorn his sonnets. AuCoin began writing poetry while still a teenager and only came to painting at the age of 66 as a hobby after retiring from his job as a “raker man” paving roads. AuCoin lives on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, where he’s been for the past eight decades.
Painting exclusively with his fingers using only red, white, green, blue and black paint procured from a dollar store, AuCoin finds reference images for his paintings in the local newspaper.
Spectacular sunsets, however, are so ubiquitous on Cape Breton Island that AuCoin paints them from memory. Each piece contains one four-line sonnet verse, with additional text speaking directly to the viewer.
An avid harness racing devotee (a form of horse racing in which horses pull a two-wheeled cart), AuCoin never misses a race during the season and the racing slips later make an appearance as the lettering for his poems and text. Using layers of found cardboard to create the structure of his artwork, AuCoin also constructs masterful hanging apparatus for the back, adding both sculptural and practical aspects to his work. Signing his art AJ/AJ, AuCoin explains that the first AJ represents the Id which creates, while the second AJ represents the Ego which achieves.