"All Part of the Inexpressible and Unthinkable"
Sylvain Bouthillette, "All Part of the Inexpressible and Unthinkable," 2005, oil, spray paint, chalk on wood, 90.5" X 96".
SYLVAIN BOUTHILLETTE, Dharma Bum
Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon
Jan 8 to April 6, 2008
By Steven Ross Smith
In the catalogue that accompanies his exhibition Dharma Bum, Sylvain Bouthillette writes, “My work is a form of meditation incarnated into action.” It is action and art that appears to be wild, but is underscored by the Montreal artist’s Buddhist meditation practice. This travelling exhibition — the first mid-career assessment of the artist’s prolific output — features more than 30 works selected from the period 1990 to 2006 by curator Bernard Lamarche. It includes paintings, sculpture, photographs, sound works, and prints.
Influenced by Joseph Beuys, the American “bad painting” movement, punk rock and popular culture, tattoos, advertising, trash aesthetic, and more, Bouthillette has created a mischievous and irreverent phantasmagoria of sights and sounds. A manic quality energizes the work, but is accompanied by the artist’s driving intention. “These works are meant to be a manifestation of wrathful compassion,” he says. There are rotating clown heads, scratched up tiger images, cute stuffed squirrels, elegant horses, and a gyrating hare. Bouthillette’s materials and media are boundless — aerosol, oil, latex and acrylic paints, charcoal, wood, crayon and chalk; there are silk-screened images, installations, gouged effects, photographic collages, lino and inkjet prints, sculptural and sonic elements, and more. He writes: “Through my art I try to bring forth a space where it is possible to see things with an uncertainty that is enlightening, intelligent, and filled with curiosity.”
Represented by: Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto.