Sunday, June 23, 2019

Jean-Pierre Larocque @ La Poste

I stumbled upon the most remarkable exhibition yesterday. The ceramics and drawings of Jean-Pierre Larocque are showing at Galerie La Poste, 1700 rue Notre Dame in Montreal, until July 7. They occupy all three storeys of the space.

To quote from the artist's biography:
"Born in Montreal in 1953, Jean-Pierre Larocque studied drawing and printmaking at UQAM before pursuing studies in ceramics at Concordia University and the Alfred University of New York, from which he received an MFA in 1988. He is recognized as one of the foremost ceramicists-sculptors of Canada."

The additive and subtractive techniques define both shape and line.

On entering the gallery,  I was first struck by more than a dozen large-scale charcoal drawings of figures and faces, somewhat reminiscent of old photographic negatives. While the high value contrast is what first drew my eye, it was a closer inspection that allowed a multiplicity of faces to emerge.

What first appear to be random, textural drawings in ink...

... reveal, on closer inspection, a multitude of faces.

The large figurative "assemblages" of clay are also prominently displayed by the entrance to the show. The viewer is compelled to do a complete tour of these sculptures, to enjoy all their dimensions.

Four figures greet the visitor...

... and demand to be seen from all angles.

The artist...
"... works with clay that is rolled into slabs and laid out flat on a table, cutting the strips he will use to make his piece. The clay is deposited in sedimentary layers, akin to the way successive strata accumulate as a city develops over time.... Coils suggest snakes, entwined in Gorgon-like hair.... The applications of round, flat, pleated, hatched and coiled structures evoke hair, or ears adorned with pendants. The psyche inhabits the hollow chambers that give the piece its structure."

A close-up view of the ceramic construction

As with the charcoal application and erasure in the large-scale drawings, the building of the sculptures is both additive and subtractive.

On the mezzanine, the artist's sketchbooks are on display.


Also on the mezzanine:

nine portraits in gouache...
... and friezes of hooded faces, in partially glazed and enamelled stoneware.

In the basement, a video shows the artist at work.

Drawings in felt pen on paper, also in the basement.

Seeing how the artist was able to express his rich vision in so many media was a revelation. A show not to be missed!

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