DECOMPOZ.MONTRÉAL. AGATA BABCZUK
They say the journey is more important than the destination, and there may be plenty of challenges along the way, but Montreal artist Laurence Vallières, is ready for battle from the get-go, laser-focused and determined she marches to the beat of her drum.
It was pretty much her only option, she knew she had no choice — she didn't want to do anything else! This "aha" moment occurred a few years back, when her very first cardboard gorilla sculpture received massive praise at the Fresh Paint Gallery during the Montréal en Lumières festival, for the Nuit Blanche event. Due to the importance of the event and little amount of time available, the artist described this experience as one of the most challenging things she has ever done. Fortunately, the painful work paid off. It was the beginning of a new chapter for Vallières. She pulled up her sleeves, worked odd jobs here and there to pursue her calling, "I piled my money on the side like a squirrel, and it was not that hard in the end", she candidly admits.
When there is commitment, anything is possible! Finally in her atelier, using recycled cardboard and glue as her medium, Vallières lets her imagination run wild. Most of her sculptures are representations of animals with human-like expressions. "We feel a certain way, and when I recreate an animal, I want to recreate a feeling, especially for the monkeys. I don't do it on purpose, it depends on my mood. Sometimes, it will be a smiling monkey because I feel in love, or a sadder one because I am feeling anxious." Generally, Vallières uses humour to express her perception of the animals, which she sees in a very cartoonish way. Apparently, contemporary art is in dire need of a speck of buffoonery...no pun intended. Why mostly primates? Because: "In the end we're all baboons and we're trying to work, but eventually our natural instincts come out. We're the same even though we're trying to act as though we're not," says the Quebec native. One of her most influential experiences was when she was commissioned by the Philadelphia Zoo to create a sculpture of a male gorilla. During which she felt a connection to the animal who became intrigued by her presence; the ape stared at her while she worked, but Vallières imagined it would be impolite to stare back. It's the act of projecting, something the sculptor seems to do quite often, especially when she catches animals in the act.
However, Vallières is not trying to project any type of sentiment onto viewers, she just wants people to enjoy the art and have a positive feeling about it. So far her work has been recognized in Germany, France, Sweden and in the US. Look out! For all of those who will be in New York in March, make sure not to miss Vallières at the New York Art Fair Festival to perform live sculptures, it is quite a sight! Immediately after, she will be flying to South Korea for the opening of an art exhibition in April. It might not always be easy, but this artist is bound to follow her instincts!