Vincent Larouche Sandcastle Staircase,exhibition view, Ryan LLC, Montréal, 2018.
Photo : Dante Guthrie, courtesy of the artist

Painting in a Transitory Realm: Vincent Larouche and the Effects of Digital Culture

Cindy Hill
The Internet has changed painting. Now, more than ever, painters and their work are implicated in a non-hierarchical network, amidst other artists, historical content, images, information, meatloaf recipes, anime porn, Reddit threads about nineties sci-fi, pumpkin spice memes, and WebMD. This content is translated from the screen to the canvas, and back again, through the artist’s ability to access, modify, reproduce, and post online as a painterly act. This cyclical process produces new meaning, expanding painting’s reach into what David Joselit calls the externalization of the medium. Joselit describes this as “an expansion of its definition from mark making on the canvas to a kind of scoring in physical space."1 1 - David Joselit, “Marking, Scoring, Storing, and Speculating (on Time),” in Painting beyond Itself: The Medium in the Post-medium Condition, ed. Isabelle Graw and Ewa Lajer- Burcharth (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2016), 17 17. .. Within these terms, referencing digital content as a painterly act has the ability to score physical space, directing the viewer’s attention to it as a material form on the canvas.

Through these actions, virtual content manifests in the physical world and a painting becomes an external screen,2 2 - Achim Hochdörfer, “How the World Came In,” in Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age: Gesture and Spectacle, Eccentric Figuration, Social Networks, ed. Manuela Ammer (Munich: Museum Brandhorst, 2015), 24. 24.holding a record of the artist’s search history through appropriated images, gestures, and shapes. Within this notion, digital and analogue languages become intertwined.3 3 - Ibid. In the work of Montréal-based artist Vincent Larouche, painting is understood through translation, bringing awareness to how a hegemonic notion of knowledge has shifted by virtue of how we consume images online. Through his work, Larouche explores the Internet’s capacity to alter our perception of reality, empathy, and safety by carrying the overwhelming nature of the virtual realm into the material world. Within this space of all-encompassing connectivity, Larouche reminds us that in such a network, no one can be sure who is in control.

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This article also appears in the issue 102 - (Re)seeing Painting

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