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Terence Dick
Mathieu Latulippe at Division Gallery | Lyse Lemieux at Katzman Contemporary, Toronto
March 10, 2015

There are times – usually after I’ve just exited a biennial-sized smorgasbord of all the weird and wonderful things that contemporary art has to offer – when everything I happen upon feels like an undiscovered artwork waiting to be discovered, appropriated, and/or replicated. The city surveyor’s spray paint marking out sewer routes on snowbanks? That’s a piece. The iPhone voice memo recording of a three year old chanting, “Dracula eats blood” for two long minutes? That’s a piece. The dumpster full of shattered concrete and one half-eaten apple? That’s a piece. Now the difference between me and an artist is that I leave it at that, whereas the latter follows through with the moment of inspiration. And thank the gods they do, because otherwise I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

Mathieu Latulippe, The Fall, 2013, digital print on Hannemuhle paper

Mathieu Latulippe, who is currently exhibiting a wide range of work at Division Gallery’s Toronto location, is the type of artist who follows though with every burst of inspiration. While such creative momentum is something to be applauded, it doesn’t mean that every stray thought should be realized. A Sol LeWitt sculpture splattered with faux bird poop might sound good on paper, but when witnessed in person it comes off as bratty (particularly when it is titled Shit Happens #1). A picture of Niagara Falls with a mushroom cloud rising from it is just a variation on the same theme (natural wonder + atom bomb = Minimalism + poop). And grainy screens shots of indiscriminate landscapes taken from scary movies should be tossed along with any other student work.

That said, Latulippe transcends his sources with a weathered birdhouse plus TV combo running a loop of unpopulated scenes from the zombie classic Night of the Living Dead. It’s the type of seemingly random conjunction of disparate parts that can’t be explained, but once it exists is hard to forget. I felt a similar compulsion to keep looking at his obscurely titled print No. 3 (Blue, yellow, orange on deep black). What seems to be your standard starry night sky is revealed on further examination to be a constellation of tiny satellites that are barely visible but – and this might just be my failing eyesight – eventually congeal into an impressive array of distinct devices for telecommunication and surveillance. That neither of these works can be reduced to a one-liner is a good indication of where the artist should continue to find his muse.

Lyse Lemieux, Wall Drawing 6 - Toronto, 2015, felted wool

A cleansing tonic from the surfeit of content and reality in Latulippe’s work can be found in Lyse Lemieux’s free floating gestures on view at Katzman Contemporary. While there are hints of things represented – particularly in her endearing suite of profile portraits reduced to a thick squiggly line tracing nose-lips-chin plus black-grey watercolour washes that shadow the eyes and brain – the dominant pieces are three floor-to-ceiling drawings of the barest sense of figuration rendered in strips of felt. One looks to me like a baby whale, another like someone with an eggbeater in their mouth, but given enough time I’m sure I could come up with far greater visions. Lemieux manages the difficult trick of opening the door just a crack and then leaves it up to the visitor to identify the results. This subtle manner of art-making can fall apart into meaningless marks or easily be dismissed as insubstantial or, worse yet, simply not noticed; however, as I learned years ago from a wise jazz man who more often than not held his trumpet in his hands rather than at his lips, it’s the notes you don’t play as much as it is the notes you do.

Division Gallery:
Mathieu Latulippe: Back to Paradise Lost continues until April 18.

Katzman Contemporary:
Lyse Lemieux & Meryl McMaster: in-between-in-between continues until March 21.

Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.



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