Review: Dan Brault at Galerie Laroche/Joncas

Dan Brault, "Je t'aime à la folie (pour Zack)", 2013. Image from Galerie Laroche/Joncas website.

Dan Brault, “Je t’aime à la folie (pour Zack)”, 2013. Image from Galerie Laroche/Joncas website.

Dan Brault, The Good Times, at Galerie Laroche/Joncas (http://www.larochejoncas.com/index.php)
April 11–May 12, 2013

Dan Brault knows how to have a good time, at least as far as painting is concerned. In his current exhibition of new paintings at Galerie Laroche/Joncas, aptly titled “The Good Times”, the Quebec-based artist presents a vibrant, candy-coated universe in which cartoonish doodles, geometric patterns, and painterly gestures all bump and bounce against one another.

Brault’s canvases, each a pastiche of colours, contrasts, and curves, create an appealing dynamic between flatness and three-dimensional space that is hard to resist. Their surfaces seem to jump with energy: monochromatic shapes and planes compete with shapely squiggles, shadows, streaks, and wispy lines. Some of Brault’s forms seem recognizable, like calligraphic stencils that recall Arabic script. Other marks such as drips and dashes escape literal interpretation, but instead suggest a visual record of the mind in action. A repetition of forms adds to the sense of rhythm, and with a longer look, familiar characters begin to appear across multiple paintings.

A key component of the energy in these works is Brault’s juxtaposition of mechanical or digital elements in the form of stencils and traditional painting techniques. Brault describes his intention behind the use of digital stencils as “a form of aesthetic dialogue between human and machine gestures… A form of collage results in visual fireworks, intensely charged and dense.”1 However, the digital element here still seems to evoke human imperfection and asymmetry in some way. In “Je t’aime à la folie (pour Zack)”, the twinned black and white forms look as if they were the result of a giant playing with Microsoft Paint, rather than the product of a precise design.

The heavy layering and building of imagery also evoke a sense of time in Brault’s work. When standing before these paintings, one can’t help but try to pick apart when each element was added, and how each image evolved. Many of the paintings initially appear as though they developed by chance, with each form appearing in response to the one created before it. However, this apparent spontaneity belies Brault’s sophisticated choices in his compositions. Like a great showman, he makes this look easy.

“The Good Times” continues at Galerie Laroche/Joncas until May 11, 2013.

1. Artist’s statement, http://larochejoncas.com/index.php?lang=gb; accessed April 25, 2013.

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