A look into the digital generation through paintings

Questioning the politics of contemporary media, network and consumption culture

As the year is ending, Projet Casa has initiated a dynamic exhibition for the second part of its program created for Pictura, an event dedicated to showcasing contemporary painting in Montreal.

Projet Casa, created by visual art enthusiasts Danielle Lysaught and Paul Hamelin, is an initiative that serves to present cultural events.

Curated by Caroline Douville with the help of Venessa Appiah, Echo Boomer: Digital Natives exhibits the works of nine emerging artists who, through various paintings, depict the way that the world has radically changed due to technology.

The artists presented at the exhibition were found on Instagram. Douville, who is a painter, is inspired by old digital work and was in search of similar artists. Douville and  Appiah have been working on the exhibition since the end of October.

The artworks are placed around the first floor and along the stairs to the second floor of where Casa Bianca used to be. They aren’t placed linearly, as one might have thought. Instead, Douville chose to position them in a way that enables the audience to get glimpses of various images at once. This represents the way people interact on the Internet, as there are various images circulating and one has to try to give attention to everything being shown.

“We want people to come in and interact and relate with artworks that depict this generation,” said Douville.

The paintings seek to bring virtual realities to life. Many references are portrayed in these artworks, such as pop culture, videos that went viral, and digital platforms that shaped today’s generation. Fashion, art history, and video games are also concepts included in the works.

“The older generation may get confused, as there are inside stories in these paintings,” said Douville. “I had to explain a concept that the owner of the place didn’t understand from one of the paintings.”

Precisely, there is a lot of irony, comedy, and realness shown in this exhibition. In the Internet era, we are bombarded with new content on a daily basis. The exhibition seeks to portray people’s daily consumption through virtual realities.

“They are nurtured by hyper-consumed and recycled images of universalized popular culture

and new understandings of materiality stemming from virtual space,” wrote Appiah, on the exhibition’s presentation. “These artists capture the algorithmic condition of our time whereby reflections of visual reality are shaped by computerized overload.”

Some paintings may be recognizable for some. For example: Un ti mot pour Kevin (2020) by Erzulie, which is Douville’s artist name, portrays a small canvas of a man holding a beer in a jacuzzi. This is a reference to a YouTube video that was posted in 2008 of a group of friends wishing happy birthday to a man named Kevin. The video was marked in Quebec popular culture forever. Her work emphasizes creating ironic images from entertainment culture.

Chloé Gagnon’s Did We Dream Too Fast (2020) is in reference to avant-garde Russian painter Mikhaïl Larionov’s Jewish Venus (1912). Gagnon’s painting depicts a naked woman laying on a bed in a collage form. Gagnon inserts the concept of collage in her work as a form of identity reconstruction, taking images of pop culture in her work.

Kevin Rameau’s Soundcloud|internet explorer.exe (2020) is the depiction of an artist’s page on SoundCloud, his alter-ego Homie-Kuan. The canvas illustrates a critical commentary on society’s often-biased view of the Black musician.

The concept of consumption can be seen in Antoine Larocque’s Carnaval (2020) canvas, where the public can recognize the word ‘Super’ from Super C’s logo. There are also printing performance tests and scribbles on the canvas that seems to depict the mess behind overconsumption.

There is a lot to see and appreciate in this energetic exhibition.

The exhibition is on display until Dec. 12 at 4351 Esplanade Avenue. Reservations can be made online.


Photos courtesy of Sabrina Jolicoeur.

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