Mathieu Latulippe Back to Paradise Lost

Works in the exhibition

In Back to Paradise Lost, Mathieu Latulippe presents a witty vision of how the postmodern mind manifests the idea of Arcadia. Gone are the days of belief in the prospect of an untroubled utopia where nature and humankind live in simple harmony. Our vision has been too clouded by the experience of human-made and natural disasters and theme park mediated nature to picture anything but a paradise that seesaws between artifice and accident.

Latulippe captures this ambivalent state through photographs, paintings, sculptures and miniature dioramas that smack of a slapstick humour akin to that of René Magritte. A painted weather beaten sign proclaiming Welcome to Fabulous Paradise Lost is a direct reference to John Milton’s poem “Paradise Lost, where the 17th-century English romanticist delves into the biblical tale of the fall of man. The piece also brings to mind 1960s road trips, the desert, big sedans, and cheap motels. Our destination turns out to look more like a slightly surreal suburb or small town plucked from a low budget horror or disaster flick than the unspoiled wilderness or beautiful garden of legend. Nature is viewed through a veil of ambivalence. Once upon a time, a sculpture of a chimpanzee bottle-feeding a kitten, presents the animal kingdom as disneyfied kitsch. In Untitled [Night of the living dead-1968] a birdhouse is transformed into a miniature cinema where humankind’s worst nightmare unfolds on a perpetual loop.

Elsewhere in Paradise Lost, nature in its sublime aspect threatens to overwhelm humanity. A car in the drive of a little bungalow is buried by an isolated accumulation of bird droppings in Shit Happens #2. In Fall, a voluminous mushroom cloud rises from Niagara Falls, transforming the international tourist attraction into a super-natural behemoth. A giant egg squashes a nest made up of domestic and industrial junk in Baby Blues, while in Monument [The little house in the valley] a house built into a hill symbolizes the love/hate relationship we have with the great outdoors, as this southwest idyll could turn into a tomb should the towering mesa behind it collapse. Trouble in paradise? You betcha. But thanks to Latulippe’s black humour, we at least we get to laugh as well as cry.

Mathieu Latulippe has a BFA from UQAM (and an MFA in Sculpture from Concordia University (2011). He has exhibited in Canada and abroad, at such venues and events as the FIFA, Manif d’Art 4 in Quebec City, Centre de diffusion Clark, Optica, the Darling Foundry, the 2011 Québec Triennial at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and Netwerk, centre d’art contemporain (Belgium) and at Division in Montreal and Toronto. Latulippe has undertaken residencies in Switzerland, France, and Turkey as well as in various locations in Quebec. 

For more information on the artist