Strauss Bourque-LaFrance’s interdisciplinary practice combines painting, sculpture, and performance, and merges disparate fields and influences, from interior and stage design to film and comics, exploring desire, memory, and estrangement in contemporary domestic and commercial culture. For his first solo exhibition No Aloha at Rachel Uffner Gallery, Bourque-LaFrance presents a series of paintings and sculptures that fuse his interest in the fabricated, minimal object with synthetic readymade materials, constructing an uncanny interior mise-en-scène with shifting views and multiple readings.
A group of domestic sculptures that function as fireplace mantels or pedestals populate the carpeted interior of the main gallery space. Traditionally the mantelpiece has been an archetype of formal domesticity, defining interior décor and an architectural focal point that served a ventilating purpose, but has since, particularly in the 20th century, been used to frame the “family room,” signifying a place to gather, or to display objects, photos, mementos; a kind of secular altar.
In Bourque-LaFrance’s disjointed interiors, the mantels are resuscitated and filled with a buoyant sense of openness and optimism that articulate domesticity, but as a malleable construct. Each of the four mantels in the exhibition takes on a different shape or surface – referencing the design and political ideologies of International Style and Memphis Group along with the high/low aesthetics of Pop and ornamentation – acting as a pedestal, a sculpture of an object, an image of an object.
Along with these works, Bourque-LaFrance will show a new grouping of “vacation paintings” that explore escapism and contemporary ways of seeing, expanding his visual language by synthesizing marks, tropes, and framing devices of historical and contemporary painting. Created using spray enamel on polyethylene mesh encased in multi-colored Plexiglas boxes, the vacation paintings combine spontaneous gestural abstraction with collaged and often representational imagery.
Ultimately, “vacation space” is a non-space, as it exists between one’s everyday life and the life one hopes to live. Bourque-LaFrance’s hybrid paintings are positioned somewhere between textiles, smartphone screens and commercial or historical vitrines, potentially hopeful and meditative fields where the viewer projects one’s fears and desires, but that never fully reveal themselves. It is the space between one’s home and one’s job, between one’s fantasies and realities. This space is No Aloha, says the press release.
The exhibition is open for public viewing until October 19.