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The Recent Work of Stephen Andrews and Philippe Laleu
13 June – 9 August 1998
in Gairloch Gardens
Curated by Marnie Fleming


Chance meetings, transatlantic connections, shared interests and experiences with Japanese art and culture – these are the points of connection between the two artists on exhibit at Oakville Galleries. Oakville Galleries’ curator Marnie Fleming noticed this connection when she met the French artist Philippe Laleu by chance while she was visiting Japan. After learning he was an artist and seeing his work, she was struck by its similarity with the work of Canadian artist Stephen Andrews. Remarking on this, she was surprised to learn that the two already knew each other! Marveling at “the forces of coincidence”, she has followed their artistic development in tandem ever since. This exhibition brings together work by both Andrews and Laleu that references their experience with Asian culture.

Stephen Andrews has been active in the Canadian Art Scene since the late 1970s. Trained as a photographer, he has manipulated portraits to examine identity, its public construction and private retreat. Working according to various project-specific methods that allow a rich synergy of medium and content, he experiments with metaphors of impermanence and the frail human body. Drawing from his Japanese experience, he has recently incorporated traditional Japanese craft techniques of paper cutting (kirie) and paper folding (origami) into his work. His series of fingerprint drawings starts with miniature pencil portraits that are transferred via his thumb, then magnified onto large sheets with the negative space cut out to create a stencil version. The fingerprint/mugshot is suggestive of the moral judgement to which we subject individuals.  In another body of work, Personals, magazine portraits are folded into cubes that give life to the flat picture. The clippings from personal ads pinned under them suggest the self-searching that accompanies the search for love.

The artwork of Philippe Laleu investigates the sites and cultures he encountered during his artistic residencies in Japan, Singapore and Thailand. He combines drawn or photographed fragments of maps, body parts, portraits and cityscapes. The images are presented on a surface which itself has meaning and history: businessmen’s handkerchiefs, old kimono fabric, or embroidered Asian silk. While his work does not accurately describe a social reality, the fragments and their positioning speak to a precisely located sense of identity. In earlier works he would lay one image over another, and in later works he has combined several images in a complex polyptych. In groupings that create a dialogue, these works give identity the specificity of place and time.

This is a unique opportunity to see the work of two artists from different countries who have been drawn together by chance and shared interest in identity and Asian sensibilities.

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