designers at UQAM
The Underground Universe of Elzo Durt and Sébastien Lépine
The UQAM Centre de Design is presenting Non conforme – The Underground Universe of Elzo Durt and Sébastien Lépine, a selection of posters from two emerging graphic artists.
Conceived by the curator and professor emeritus Marc H. Choko, the exhibition Non conform – The underground universe of Elzo Durt and Sébastien Lépine aims to make known the work of two poster designers from schools of graphic design before they embarked on a practice inspired by their love for music.
The works of both these creators with similar backgrounds are outside the archetypes of conformity taught in schools. One lives and works in Brussels, the other is Montrealer. DJ and VJ at their hours, silkscreen craftsmen, Elzo Durt, 38, and Sébastien Lépine, 41, are two poster designers who went to graphic design schools before embarking on a practice inspired by their love of music.
Addressing an informed public, the posters they create can afford to overlook the criteria of perfect readability, opting for an abundant imagery and playing graphic references specific to the underground environment in which they bathe.
“It’s a whole universe marked by the urban culture of the night, its concerts, its more or less lawful substances, and a rebellious aesthetic peculiar to the counterculture expressed in their posters,” says Marc H. Choko.
The works of both these creators with similar backgrounds are outside the archetypes of conformity taught in schools.
The Poster Artists
Originally from Brussels, Elzo Durt studied there at the École de Recherche Graphique. While attending concerts and parties, he also produced most flyers of underground events. In 2004, he founded The Plin Tub Gallery to present alternative art: posters, serigraphs, illustrations, comics. The gallery remained active until 2008.’
His posters comprise borrowings, collages and (often incongruous) juxtapositions, in a multicoloured palette, infused with psychedelic and punk influences. Highly recognizable, they have been featured in numerous exhibitions in Europe and the United States.
Durt also creates album and magazine covers and develops visuals for skateboard, snowboard and clothing brands. His acute style, bathed in psychedelic and punk influences, is recognizable by all.
‘His acute style, bathed in psychedelic and punk influences, is recognizable by all.’
Following the creative paths explored by Tadanori Yokoo, Elzo Durt draws briskly from the imagery of science fiction, from comics,from ancient religious and medical books, and from the panoply of classic macabre illustrations of the world of underground music. Created with a computer, his colorful assemblages evoke mysterious or crazy worlds, silkscreened in of four to six colors, through offset lithography or sometimes as digital printing.
An aficionado of gig posters, Durt often refers to skulls and skeletons, adding many satanic representations, sometimes with a humorous nod. In contrast, he multiplies caryatids, cherubs and other putti directly drawn from religious imagery of the Renaissance, and his funny women with TV heads, or his Art Nouveau style, revisited, that Victor Moscoso would not have denied.
‘An aficionado of gig posters, Durt often refers to skulls and skeletons, adding many satanic representations, sometimes with a humorous nod.’
Sébastien Lépine studied graphic design at UQAM (BA Graphic Design 2001). His style, mixing photographic elements, frames, traces of colour, transparencies and overlays, is marked by continual experimentation and a quest for depth. His experiments play with the superimposition of colours, the decomposition of the image and the multiplication of planes.
Lépine likes Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Felipe Pantone, the tattoo world, New York and John Lennon. His inspiration comes from music that he listens to in a loop, sometimes from record jackets of groups. Beginning with a hand-made, sort of trash drawing, he them lets the pieces of the puzzle find their place using a computer.
‘Beginning with a hand-made, sort of trash drawing, he them lets the pieces of the puzzle find their place using a computer.’
The poster is always silkscreened, usually in a palette of three colors, a black and pastel tones. Most often, the atmosphere that emerges from these works is strangely soft, calm, and far from what is generally associated with underground circles.
While some of Lépine’s works show skulls and skulls, most of his imagery concerns the human body through representations derived from photographs or just sketched out. An atmosphere close to the world of surrealism permeates in many of his posters, but what characterizes Sébastien Lépine is his quest for depth and the experiments it lead him to do. The play of colours, the overlays, the decomposed images and the multiple plans are particularly interesting examples.
‘While some of Lépine’s works show skulls and skulls, most of his imagery concerns the human body…’
Marc Choko, curator
Marc H. Choko is a professor emeritus at the UQAM School of Design, where he has taught since 1977. He is also an author, lecturer and curator. He is a lover of posters, which he has collected since the mid-1960s. Since the early 1980s, he has been organizing exhibitions, including several as curator, and publishing a number of books.
Gig posters : a Contemporary Artisanal Poster Movement
Elzo Durt and Sébastien Lépine are part of a contemporary movement of poster artisanswho usually print their own works on silkscreen, in limited editions, and offer them for sale on the Web or at music festivals and events dedicated to underground graphics. Some of these excellent, rare posters quickly become collector’s items.
Nonconforming poster designers:
The Underground Universe of Elzo Durt and Sébastien Lépine
September 6 to 23, 2018
Marc H. Choko, Curator
Centre de Design de l’UQAM
1440, rue Sanguinet, Montréal, QC H2X 3X9
Wednesday to Sunday, Noon to 6 pm
UQAM offers the most complete programming in the field of the arts in Canada. It is the only Canadian university to offer courses in all artistic disciplines at all three levels of study. In the field of communications, UQAM is the largest French-language training center in the country. Each year, its graduates are renowned on the national and international scenes. galerie.uqam.ca