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Sylvain Bouthillette
From October 31st 2008 to December 6th 2008
Exposition solo

Curator: Jean-Michel Ross

In this installation, Sylvain Bouthillette fuses hardcore, North American punk attitude and aesthetic with Buddhist philosophy, reinterpreting their respective symbolic repertoires and iconography. His work shifts between what he calls a spiritual, internal revolution and an external revolution that he associates with the world of punk and its forms of expression. A grid composed of various, equal-sized drawings and slogans and a preposterous self portrait (in which Bouthillette is represented as a jug-eared Buddha) form an orderly and symmetrical installation whose style recalls that of a columbarium.

For the artist, these small, skull-faced characters, typically found in contemporary iconography, refer not only to the impermanence of human existence and the Dharma Seals of Buddhist tradition, but also suggest the transformation of our society and the endurance of art. This reference to “impermanence”, describing a process of change, recalls the vanitas in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Flemish painting, a reminder, that touches us still, of the overriding certainty of death. It goes without saying that skull imagery is prevalent in the punk scene as well. The slogans that punctuate the drawings like (the mostly untranslatable) “TABARNAQUE DE CRISSE D’OSTIE DE FUCK DE CÂLICE” are blunt expressions of the artist’s rage, while others, such as “LAISSER TOMBER LA TÊTE DANS LE COEUR LE COEUR DANS LE VENTRE ET REMONTEZ LE VENTRE DANS LE COEUR” (roughly : “let your head fall into your heart your heart into your belly and bring your belly back up into your heart”) testify rather to spiritual activity. Set side by side, these textual snippets reveal the importance of altruism in the artist’s work, whether internal or external revolutions are involved.



Born in 1963, Sylvain Bouthillette lives and works in Montreal. He obtained a master’s in visual arts at Concordia University, where he now teaches. Since 1987, he has developed a practice that includes graphic work, painting, photography, and sculpture. He is represented by Galerie Trois Points in Montreal, and the Clint Roenishch Gallery in Toronto. Exhibiting regularly in Quebec, Canada, and abroad, he recently participated in the exhibition Québec Gold in Reims (France), in 2008. Between 1988 and 1999, he was a base player in such bands as Rhythm Activism, Bliss, and Roughage, with whom he toured extensively across North America.