Mathieu Laca’s Warped Portraits of Historical Figures

by CaroPosted on


Quebec, Cananda based artist Mathieu Laca often plays with shape and form in his oil paintings. His latest series increases his usual level of distortion in warped portraits of historical figures. These include famous icons, especially writers, like Virgina Woolf, Charles Baudelaire, and Henry David Thoreau. Throwing all visual conventions out the window, Laca contorts and smudges their faces with spots of intense colors, some beyond recognition. One might think that his dismantling their appearance is an act of defiance, but many of them are personal heroes of the artist. Rather, he provides them with more physical personality where traditional portraiture is lacking. In his recent newsletter, he writes, “One of the features of painting — one that keeps fascinating — is its ability, through all sorts of means, to give the illusion of space. Even though, we all know that a painting is a flat surface. But playing around with contrasts, outlines, overlapping, etc., painters are able to generate a fictitious depth. My recent work on portraiture has brought me to play with that feature but in a relatively restricted way. After all, between a nose, an ear and the background in a portrait, there isn’t that much space. The issue is of limited importance in this case.” Laca is currently exhibiting at Art’chipel Gallery, 7 Saint-Louis St., Lévis, Québec, Canada.

“Virginia Woolf (Study I)”

“Virginia Woolf (Study II)”

“Johannes Brahms (Study I)”

“Johannes Brahms (Study II)”

“Henry David Thoreau (Study I)”

“Henry David Thoreau (Study III)”

“Charles Baudelaire”

“American Poet (after a portrait of Walt Whitman)”

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