Vincent Broquaire — Malleability
Past: January 10 → February 16, 2013
The term trompe l’oeil comes to mind when looking at Vincent Broquaire’s work. Consider the drawing Capture, a man and a tree are on opposite sides of the paper. The man holds up what appears to be a smartphone. The tree, while its roots are grounded, bends its top towards the device. It looks like the tree is being absorbed by the device, or is it the other way, is the device giving rise to the tree? The captive and capturer fluctuate back and forth.
The works seem to suggest that if Broquaire is questioning our perception of reality, it would be the virtual and the material worlds. Initially, we might think he was rejecting the virtual world as unreal, for that seems the stance of critical culture with its concerns over blogs replacing newspaper editorials, consumers unquestioningly trusting online stores, viewers digesting videos ambivalent of fact or fiction. But if we come back to Broquaire’s images, with their depiction of the digital and the physical in the same hand-drawn manner, as drawings, animations in frames, and installations, i.e. objects, then we cannot believe this to be his argument. Indeed, he seems to be saying: there is no unreal and real, it’s all man-made.
Using humour in art is contentious: if it’s funny, can it also be serious? Certainly the absurd is no longer shocking. Ridiculous acts are recorded and widely available on social media, and the absurd has become merely diverting — worse, we have come to expect more and more. But humour can still be a flexible tool: it can be a facetious tickle, a 1-fingered poke, a riddle to puzzle over. Besides being amusing, it can point to human limitations. Artists are challenged to find contemporary tactics.
As Broquaire’s body of work cannot be read in a singular path, but in the circulating and looping back of ideas, neither should the text about it. So we return to the drawing Capture, and the opening question: is the device creating the tree, or the tree the device? Perhaps we can answer, both? Because, as with the digital world, as indeed with (gallery-attending) social ritual, humour and art, it is all man-made, all constructed reality, our culture. As such, there is an iterative loop of being created and in turn creating. So when we next see Capture or other “looped” works by Broquaire, we will see something different because our realities are ever changing and malleable. Perhaps that is Broquaire’s trompe l’oeil — or rather “trompe l’esprit” on reality — it looks the same and yet it has changed.
Opening Thursday, January 10, 2013 6 PM → 9:30 PM
17, rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth
Wednesday – Saturday, 2 PM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment