Pierre Laroche’s interest delves into established codes and symbolic constructions associated with the history of art. The decision to coordinate the current retrospective exhibition came from a desire to emphasize Laroche’s mischievous look onto conventions. In his paintings, the observer will come to discover the fortuitous meeting places of Krieghoff scenes and of anachronistic and imaginary elements. Mansions’ balconies filled with zombies and artists from here and around the globe, sleds being deviated by road signs. These illusory worlds are presented into glass balls, bottles or falling canvases.
Laroche qualifies his approach as self-oriented and he explores different ways to allude to the idea of deviation. Sometimes, the divergence is politically anchored and hazardous as in Arpeur, other times it is simply mentioned through road detours that have no particular motive or end as in Où allons-nous and qui sommes-nous?
The ones familiar with Laroche’s artistic proposals will discover his new tendency and interest toward notorious Arts Museums’ exhibitions merchandise. Indeed, the artist created a whole series of objects informed by his own practice, such as touring exhibition promotional t-shirts and smoke flavored air-freshener for cars. These items are at once collectible artworks and tools of propaganda: “However subversive the artwork is, it invariably ends up as a consumer good. I chose here to become the conductor/commander and to speed up the diversion process!” It is during a dialogue with the artist that I opted for a presentation of the “related merchandise” throughout the exhibition layout itself in order to “disrupt the established order” that usually differentiates the “gift shop” from the exhibition space. The artist and I wished to create a tension between the market world and artistic delight, to reflect on the object’s status and symbolic value.
An active member of the Cabanist movement, Laroche is a pragmatic individual: “I do not believe that art can change the world, but I can try.” He prefers having fun before everything falls apart. Satirical and elegant, he blends criticism with humor and poetry. Recognized for his visual parodies, Laroche finds inspiration in Krieghoff paintings, traffic signs, media and the art world, all of which he reactivates via his own perspective.
To muddy the waters, I invited another Cabanist artist, Éric Lamontagne, to infiltrate this retrospective exhibition. As an illusionist image maker, Lamontagne presents two paintings of distorted sceneries. The numerous cuts in the canvas were reused and transformed into painted objects. These optical illusions paintings are in fact real sculptural objects and found scattered in the gallery space as tools to produce an exhibition. Lamontagne’s witty gesture adds a conceptual link to Laroche’s fantastical and critical fictions. The visual dialogue between the works of these two artists establishes a narrative frame that creates another layer of fiction, the one of the artist figure itself. In the era of post-truth and alternative facts, Pierre Laroche fascinates the public with his relevant and fanciful comment and with his unlikely existence.