Mathieu Laca will be presenting Face to Face at Thompson Landry Gallery from July 21 to August 16. This is his introductory text to the exhibition.
Face to Face
My teenage dream was to become a writer. Nothing seemed more powerful to me than the ability to create worlds, to invent characters and to imagine stories by scribbling ink on a pure white surface. Being a writer appeared to me as maybe the next best thing after being God. It’s no coincidence that the most successful religions rely on books; the written word has an unmatched authority.
When we read, we allow someone to talk to us very closely. The author whispers in our ear, fuels our mind and ignites our imagination. It’s a very intimate experience.
When I selected the works to be featured in my Toronto exhibition, I realized that almost all the people I portrayed for the show are writers. It struck me because it wasn’t premeditated at all! Of course, I have had a connection with them simply by reading their works over the years. Charles Bukowski’s gilded gutter life, Margaret Atwood’s coldly plausible dystopias, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ wonderfully brutal magic and Michel Tremblay’s relentless tenderness all have seduced me at one point. But that doesn’t totally explain the need felt to paint them.
When looking at the forest of symbols that compose the page of a book, something remains hidden. It’s there and it’s not. You can try to track it but it’s like searching proofs of God in a jar of jelly beans. Forever elusive. What is it? The author. Omniscient yet nowhere visible. “The great puppeteer.”
In this series of portraits, my desire was to fiercely tear the veil of the page with flying impasto and splatter. Painting has this power. I wanted to come face to face with writers, my teenage self and maybe the divine.