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Art exhibition "Bureau des permis": Catherine Lescarbeau and Thomas Grondin, local artists, combine urbanism to still life

Sonia Roy LJI Journalist

Catherine Lescarbeau and Thomas Grondin, both artists by profession and teachers at Cégep de l'Outaouais, have combined their two distinct practices in their latest exhibition "Bureau des permis". Organized by curator François Chalifour, the exhibition, which includes some 15 works, was available until April 20, 2022 at the Cégep de l'Outaouais art gallery, located inside the Félix-Leclerc campus.

Combining modern urbanism and natural design, big-city asphalt and indoor plants, the opposing approaches of Ms. Lescarbeau and Mr. Grondin blend into a surprising harmony in this exhibition featuring photographs and paintings by the artists. Thomas Grondin, who holds a Master's degree in Art History from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), is a regular at major art houses in the region, such as Axe-Néo-7 and Galerie l'Imagier, and has a well-established practice in Montreal. He has been working as a visual artist since 1999 through the use of various mediums and presents, in the exhibition "Bureau des permis", his fascination with urban landscapes and their visual impact on our daily lives. His paintings and photographs are about nature, which he likes dislocated, raw, imperfect, as well as his very precise vision of the organization of large cities. He explains this interest by his first job, during which he helped his father in his roofing business. His works are both imposing (reproduction of major city streets & commercial signage) and intriguing (negative spaces, checkered reproduction).

Catherine Lescarbeau, who holds a master's degree in visual and media arts and a doctorate in the study and practice of art from the Université du Québec à Montréal, is interested in the almost opposite concept of her exhibition colleague: interior settings and landscapes are what interest her. Signing her project "Département des plantes", which was exhibited at the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) gallery in 2016, Lescarbeau embodies her interest in what surrounds us (but what we can't see) by conducting methodical research on houseplants. Using an archival method, the artist conducted a full-scale study of the university's department plants. By cataloguing the office plants in the UQO's premises, Catherine Lescarbeau was able to create a sort of data matrix: the most popular plants, the major botanical categories and the department with the most plants are now known items that can be cross-referenced. Her photos of plants, documented as artifacts, are large, rectangular on a white background and punctuate the gallery space with lightness. The artists' works thus formed a mix of indoor and outdoor that inspired the name "Bureau des permis" (in reference to government offices, in which the houseplant reigns supreme and the windows almost always overlook some form of urban sprawl).

François Chalifour, professor and curator at Cégep de l'Outaouais, is the mastermind behind the surprising Grondin-Lescarbeau alliance and was the host of the artists' roundtable on April 20. Catherine Nadon, a professor in the Department of Education at UQO, was invited as a commentator at this final event, which was attended by students and faculty from the Cégep.

Photo caption: The works presented at the art exhibition ''Bureau des permis''.

Photo credit: Sonia Roy

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