Sunday, 29 January 2012

Interview with Mathieu Laca

q)Please introduce yourself.

a)Hello, my name is Mathieu Laca and I’m a painter.

q)Where do you live and work?

a)I live and work in Laval, a suburb of Montreal, the largest city in Québec which is the French-speaking province of Canada.

q)How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

a)First, I would say that my work is figurative but also daring, provocative, challenging. I would say that it’s not decorative.

q)How did you start in the arts? How/when did you realize you were an artist?

a)In 1999, when I was 17, I remember as well as if it was yesterday of one of the very large ink and graphite drawings I did for a special project. As I was sketching out a torso with curved lines, something happened. I had a strong and marvelous feeling. The muscles instinctively took shape under my fingers. It was as if my hand was guided. This imploring figure that I drew, emerging from a black sea, its ribcage offered in sacrifice, its weeping phallic shark-like head… it was me! That was what I was living at that precise moment and that no words could ever describe. I was trying to emerge from darkness. The excitement of that revelation and the sense of completion were almost unbearable. At that moment, I knew that I would dedicate my life to painting.

q)What are your favorite art materials and why?

a)Oil paint. Why? It was invented to represent human flesh and that’s what interests me.

q)What/who influences you most?

a)As you learn, you go through phases during which you’re inspired by different artists. I went through a lot of phases. Consequently, I was inspired by a lot of artists. But, when I found a style that suited me, that was my own and that really came from within, I stopped searching for “a way” to paint. I have to say though that the artist that fascinated me most and that continues to do so is Francis Bacon. His obsession for the human figure, his incredible confidence in painterly “mistakes”, the way he literally has put his guts onto canvas… His color combinations, the way he distorted bodies according to his feeling, how he was never satisfied with depicting the surface of things, how he wanted to reach the core… All that appeals to me. Although sometimes my work is very different in the mood or technique, I strive for his intensity.

q)Describe a typical day of art making for you.

a)I wake up at 7am, walk my dogs and feed them. Then, I go to my studio where I paint until noon. I eat. I go back to the studio until 5pm when my working day is over. 7 days a week, 365 days a year or almost. As simple as that.

q)Do you have goals, specific things you want to achieve with your art or in your career as an artist?

a)I want to upstage Picasso. The problem is that I’m Canadian and that Canadians don’t support their artists as larger countries do. The art market is just not big enough here.

q)What contemporary artists or developments in art interest you?

a)I’m interested in seeing more contemporary painters in museums. I’m really bored with all those postmodern installations and videos. I think it’s time we see painting as a relevant medium to express contemporary issues and not just a relic of the past.

q)How long does it typically take you to finish a piece?

a)In average, I spend 3-5 days on a piece.

q)Do you enjoy selling your pieces, or are you emotionally attached to them?

a)I’m not attached to most of them. Some of them I particularly love but then I know I’ll make other good ones. Selling a piece just encourages me to make more. It also makes space for others to come.

q)Is music important to you? If so, what are some things you're listening to now?

a)Music is very important in the studio. It sets the mood. Right now I’m listening to the French singer Barbara. Very tragic and sensitive.


a)Books are very important too. My all-time favorite books are Rimbaud’s Illuminations and Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Right now, I’m reading a biography of Francis Bacon.

q)What theories or beliefs do you have regarding creativity or the creative process?

a)I believe art is deeply spiritual. More than religion, which is essentially political.

q)What do you do (or what do you enjoy doing) when you're not creating?

a)Having sex. And playing with my dogs.

q)Do you have any projects or shows coming up that you are particularly excited about?

a)I’ll have a solo show called “Balls to the Wall” at the Patrick John Mills Gallery in Ottawa in November 2012.

q)Do you follow contemporary art scenes? If so, how? What websites, magazines, galleries do you prefer?

a)I don’t really “follow” it. I just get a glimpse of it here and there and that’s enough.

q)Ask yourself a question you'd like to answer, and answer it: What are you working on right now?

a)I’m working on a series of portraits of old masters (such as Rembrandt, Goya, Velasquez) using only pigments those painters were using in their time. I had to do a lot of research first to find what pigments the old masters I had in mind were using and then to get the costly and rare Vermilion, Lapis Lazuli, Orpiment, Malachite and other precious tubes. Most of these colors are mainly used by restorers nowadays and only sold in very small quantities.

q)Any advice for aspiring artists?

a)Be patient. Follow your desire without making compromise.

q)Where can we see more of your work online?

a)On my website: On my gallery’s website: