I moved from a trailer in rural Maryland named “Jimmy’s Play Shack” to a condemned building in Chicago that was being illegally rented out. The rent was what I could afford and the guy at the halfway house next door in the orange jacket always stood with me at the bus stop in the morning so that I was left alone by the others. One night, when my roommate was gone and I was alone in the place, someone tried to break into the apartment front door. I looked out the window and made eye contact with this man expelling all his hate and aggression at busting down the door and he yelled to me to let him in…”ya sure let me do that for you.” I called 911 and after I told them my Chicago address they said “call us back when he gets inside, and hung up on me” I didn’t even know that 911 could hang up on someone. I watched that man try to break in, scream directly at me, and taunt me from the outside stoop for one hour. It was the longest heightened sense of fear and mortality that I had ever experienced…and when he finally gave up, I just went back to my evening because what else do you do?
Johalla Projects and Victoria Press are honored to present, for the first time in Chicago, a major exhibition of original work by Canadian based artist Bp Laval. The exhibition, Take the World in a Love Embrace, will run from October 13 to November 24. An opening reception will be held on Friday, October 13, from 7-10pm.
Extended sensory experiences, be it fear, pleasure, or pain, have a way of thrusting our physicality and humanity onto our consciousness. Heightened senses of danger or erotic experiences pulse through the body with rapid speed; rushing blood in a heatwave of movement, pulsing heartbeats that fill your ears and shake your core, and a sense that time is both moving slowly and, yet, passing faster than you can think. Laval thrusts that corporeal bombardment onto the canvas with a textural expression that quakes with emotion and reminds us all of our physicality and the force that we can expel out into the world.
Take The World in a Love Embrace includes new works that reflect on the artist’s memory of interacting with a couple who, at the time, were on a bender of violence and crime. “When we were talking, I had a creepy feeling that this guy could kill me right now. They drove away and I thought those two are so wasted they’re going to kill someone on the highway, so I called the cops” Pushing against simply visualizing a lived event, his works simultaneously slip in and out of multi-layered references of sexual expression, illogical senses of space, and timelessness. In this, Laval creates space across his compositions for questioning how violence and trauma are presented in media vs. art, societal relationships to the police, and the myth of compartmentalizing sex and sexuality from daily life.
A baroque sensuality washes many of the works, with figures swinging in a sensual field of color or lounging intertwined in a pleasure land of activity. Yet, across all of his works, his unwavering textural abstract style stands strong, creating a bold juxtaposition between rough rendering a-la Leon Golub and engulfed erotic play. In this dichotomy, Laval’s works are charged with a considerate portrayal of the human condition. Not fetishistic and not objectifyingly violent, his works challenge us to feel ourselves in totality, as fearful, dangerous, loving, sexual, damaged, surviving individuals operating within society.
Suspend your daily routine, leave your to-do list and laundry for tomorrow, and enter the fantasmic world of expression and expulsion found in Take the World in a Love Embrace.
This exhibition is curated by Ashlee Jacob, publisher and owner of Victoria Press.
Bp Laval was born in 1969 and lives and works in Vancouver, BC. He is represented by Fortnight