Vincent Larouche exhibits familiar characters through dynamic paintings
From video games and sci-fi films to cyberpunk, Vincent Larouche found a unique way to reunite contemporary themes in a dynamic exhibition that depicts a generation that grew up surrounded by pop and media culture.
Presented at Fonderie Darling, a visual-arts venue in Montreal’s Old Port, Ocelle is an exhibition that showcases nine paintings in a space where the real and the virtual coexist.
Larouche is a Montreal-based artist who graduated with a BFA from Concordia in 2019. Since then, the artist has built a reputable name for himself, doing several exhibitions both locally and internationally, including his first solo exhibition in Montreal Black-Talk (2017) and another called Bouches de Cendres Actives (2019).
The paintings are placed around the room as if each canvas will present the next sequence of the previous painting. It feels like admiring images that came out of a comic book.
Larouche’s work portrays caricatures. In Ocelle, he included various familiar characters that one may recognize from pop culture.
A Study in Motion (2019-2020), depicts Sonic the Hedgehog, the well-known protagonist of a series of video games published by Sega. In this painting, viewers can observe a female character looking directly at them, as if the character was posing for a picture, surrounded by different poses of Sonic.
Being a Sonic fan myself, seeing this painting brought me back to my childhood, when I would watch the animated series or get dizzy playing a Sonic-themed race game on the GameCube. Good times.
Then, famous Hollywood stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock are portrayed side by side in Ontological Fan Fiction (2019). This painting illustrates Reeves in his character from The Matrix (1999) and Bullock as her character from the 2009 movie The Blind Side. Compared to the previous painting, this canvas seems less joyful. Both characters have serious looks on their faces and exude mystery.
Another particular artwork that is fascinating to admire is History Painting (2020). The canvas shows a hacker destroying a computer system, while looking towards those viewing. This painting is an example, among others, that illustrates the concept of evil.
Dante Looking at Phlegyas, (2020) is a piece illustrating a heroic figure being observed by what seems to be devils, illustrated on opposite corners of the painting. While the artwork may seem childish due to its simplicity, it may depict how there’s a desire to possess power in a virtual world.
The painted characters easily capture the audience’s gaze, with the figures looking back in return.
It’s strange, yet bizarre, being observed by fictional beings. Plus, they are placed around a small room, which gives the audience the impression that they are being watched from every corner of the space.
Ocelle presents dynamic and engaging artwork. Many of Larouche’s characters give off several expressions; some may seem more malicious than others, while others may seem more sympathetic or even suspicious.
Walking through the space, it is as if the roles are alternated. Instead of spectators observing the fictional figures, the figures are watching them. Sounds like a sci-fi movie plot.
The feeling of being observed by fictional caricatures is creepy. Though, the exhibition shows the deep relationship between the natural and the supernatural worlds as they cohabit together in reality.
Technology has advanced rapidly, allowing the creation of several virtual worlds that can be explored through video games, television series, books and more. Ocelle represents a new fantasy world, where pop and media culture icons come together and observe another reality; never taking their eyes off the public.
Ocelle is on display at Fonderie Darling, at 745 Ottawa St., until April 4. The art complex is open Thursday to Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. For more information about Fonderie Darling’s current programming, visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Photos by Ana Lucia Londono Flores.