Jean Labourdette (aka Turf One)
December 11, 2010
through January 8, 2011
NEW YORK, NY (November 12, 2010) — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to announce The Rising, a series of new works by Parisian-born, Montréal-based artist Jean Labourdette (aka Turf One) in what will be his first solo exhibition at the gallery, as well as the release of two print editions featuring images from paintings in the exhibition. On the title of his show, in the artist’s words: “The Rising is the instant when a soul frees itself from a dying body and elevates toward a new state of life, a transition period where death becomes birth.”
Labourdette’s signature aesthetic evokes a unique combination of contrasting traditions such as 15th Century Flemish portraiture, Russian icons, and circus/carnival sideshows. He renders his male subjects in a meticulously fine level of detail, with highly defined wrinkles, facial hair and prison tattoos, suggesting colorful narratives of gypsy vicissitude. Abnormal bodily proportions in a range of extreme height or weight measurements are prominent, such as midgets and giants—some of which are obese or have distorted, shortened or elongated limbs.
One of the works featured in this show is a portrait of the late Dennis Hopper (who the artist considers a source of creative inspiration) re-imagined in gold leaf as a patron saint of the arts. Borrowed religious iconography intensifies reoccurring symbolic imagery—pigeons and sparrows represent messengers or incarnations of the soul while memento mori is expressed through skulls and vermin. Attempting to overcome the perception of death as the negation of life, Labourdette’s work explores the mysteries of mortality, identity and life beyond death, questioning the end of the self, impermanence of man and permanence of the soul.
Inspired by curiosity cabinets, Labourdette often uses found objects and antique artifacts to create an interactive quality to his three-dimensional works. Small doors reveal (or conceal) compartments with additional layers, accentuating the theme of the body as a vessel for the soul within. Architectural elements suggest the church in these dioramas, transforming box frames into theatrical stages, which become windows into Labourdette’s unconscious mind.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jean Labourdette (aka Turf One) was born in 1976 and raised in Malakoff (a suburb of Paris, France). In 2001, he moved to Montréal, Québéc, Canada, where he is currently based. In the late 80s into the early 90s, Labourdette was a graffiti writer in and around Paris, going by the name of Turf One. Over the years the self-taught artist honed his skills, evolving into a prolific and sought-after multi-disciplinarian, working as an illustrator, comic artist and filmmaker. In 2004, Labourdette abandoned all commercial work in favor of creating fine art.