Louis Bouvier at Centre Clark

Artist: Louis Bouvier

Exhibition title: Toujours vers une comprehension totale et absolue (Always toward a total and absolute understanding)

Venue: Centre Clark, Montréal, Canada

Date: March 9 – April 15, 2017

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Centre Clark, Montréal

For the past few years, Louis Bouvier has developed a visual language based on codes and images from such diverse sources as history and popular culture. In keeping with the work he presented at Galerie de l’UQAM (2013), and more recently at L’Écart (2016), Bouvier presents an installation of displayed objects, drawings, and castings that act as a kind of in situ intervention in CLARK’s Salle 2. The artist uses the effects of scale – both dimensional and spatial – to offer multiple points of entry into the installation. Here, the viewer will find certain recurring themes in his work, such as cornices or ledges used as plinths for various objects, drawings presented in non-­standard frames, the use of faux-­fini, and found or modified objects. Through sampling and assemblage, the artist creates new narratives for each of these elements.

As with collage or a visual exquisite corpse, Bouvier creates his pieces through amalgamation. The imposing plaster figure with a truncated torso is a good example. Recalling the draped figures of Greek statuary, the figure is posed on a seat from the Montreal metro. In a cheeky reference to Anish Kapoor, it holds a spherical mirror whose surface distorts everything it reflects, like an anamorphosis that allows an entire room to be seen at once.

Bouvier also presents drawings made in a realistic style, which stand out through their imagery. In one such series, the artist’s collection process is reminiscent of a herbarium. While the background shows a figure from art history, the foreground elements are culled from natural or cultural phenomena, from street gang signals to butterfly specimens. In another approach to drawing, the artist juxtaposes acronyms from contemporary culture. For example, the letters MVP (Most Valuable Player) are inscribed onto the Venus of fertility, like an honour bestowed upon a player who has significantly contributed to the success of their team. While this pairing may seem odd at first, Bouvier’s choice may be interpreted as a modern way of recognizing the iconic value of the Venus figure and its quality as a precise historical referent.

The Internet has an undeniable presence in Bouvier’s work. In his quest to reveal new paradigms, the artist demonstrates a kind of encyclopaedic knowledge that allows him to reframe and subvert classic references. By placing everything on the same time line, Bouvier creates a kind of levelling of knowledge. Through his compositions, many references enter into dialogue with one another, creating a pseudo-­ethnographic environment. Toujours vers une comprehension totale et absolue (Always toward a total and absolute understanding) is a form of historical remixing of infinite possibility and multiple interpretation.

Louis Bouvier lives and works in Montreal, where he was born. Known for his large-­format, photorealist drawings, he now includes cast sculptures and found objects in his practice. In November 2015, he presented two solo exhibitions, one at the Maison des Artistes Francophones, in Winnipeg, the other at Galerie de l’UQAM. With support from the Conseil des Arts du Québec, he presented a two-­part research project, the first part at L’Écart, in Rouyn-­Noranda (November 2016), and the second at Centre CLARK. In the fall of 2017, he will participate in a research residency at the Banff Centre, sponsored by the CALQ. Louis Bouvier holds a Bachelors and a Masters degree in visual and media arts from UQAM.