Alain Benoit, Étalon, 2002. Urethane.
Courtesy of the artist.

January 18 – February 24, 2007

Curator: Mathieu Beauséjour

Benoit, Fortier, Laplante, Perreault

Ways of Thinking

La Tête au ventre features sculpture, video, collage and installation. Central to this exhibition is the notion of the grotesque, of bawdy and irreverent behaviour, and the overturning of social norms relating to the human form. Curator Mathieu Beauséjour writes: “La Tête au ventre is a celebration of flesh – our flesh – which circulates among these works of art, becomes part of them, looks them in the eye, recognizes itself in them. By thinking through our stomachs, we uncover what is profoundly human in our relationship to the Other; not in terms of identity, but in terms of carnality.”

For over five years, Alain Benoit has worked with a model – an obese man – who has become the central focus of his practice. Through sculpture and video, Benoit’s subject of choice, the grotesque body, becomes the site of constant mutation and transformation, both real and imagined. In one of Benoit’s works, titled What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body? viewers enter a large convex-mirrored room in which they are confronted with a physically distorted image of themselves. Louis Fortier’s installation features hundreds of cast wax heads. These effigies have been manipulated into various mutations of human likeness, carrying expressions both monstrous and perverse. Merging the creative experimentations of art and science, Myriam Laplante’s installation Elixir presents a working laboratory for the formation of miniature hybrid beings, each in the process of receiving the elixir of life. Claude Perreault creates elaborately collaged portraits which seamlessly combine art historical portraiture, modern-day pop culture idols and gay porn, all framed within a Baroque aesthetic. These excessively detailed portraits present a wry comment on society’s obsession with idolatry and its insatiable attraction to the spectacles of excess.

The Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery‘s contemporary exhibition program is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.