To celebrate the return of Montreal’s Mural Festival, Off the Hook has reached out to local artists we love, to reimagine our space at OTH Plateau through their artistic lens. The project is entitled ‘’Lèche-Vitrines’’, playing off the concept of window shopping, the concept is quite simple. We wanted festival-goers to have even more art to enjoy, giving artists an extra canvas to showcase their work during the festival.
Our third and final installation is held by none other than J.Arthur, a fellow Ringleader and ex-OTH employee. Exploring the effects of confinement and the pandemic through art, J.Arthur's installation is perhaps the biggest takeover we've ever had the pleasure of hosting. Read on to learn more behind his creative process!
Who are you and what do you do?
I am J. Arthur and I draw characters!
How would you describe your art practice?
I would say I place a lot of importance on the meaning behind my Art. The drawings are a way for me to find happiness and to connect it with others. So, I would say most of my art practice is thinking/meditating and trying to find ways of communicating that idea. By keeping my subject matter consistent, I find various ways to express my emotions. Throughout the years I have had the pleasure of designing different clothing pieces for people to enjoy on a personal level. I have painted on Converses, stitched on NY caps and printed out tees, worked with other artists intending to connect with my community and spreading love. I love to paint, draw, design, work with wood, create videos, etc. These days I enjoy using various mediums, as I believe experimentation is key and perhaps at the source of my art practice.
What inspires you to do what you do?
People! The interactions I have with the community around me are at the core of what drives me forward. It's funny, I draw people for people because of people. I try to be receptive to the world around me, the energies and the feelings people have. I am also inspired by the collaborative mindset Montreal has. Being a part of the Ringleaders for instance is a huge part of my inspiration. I am inspired by creatives. Inspired by the amazing musicals artists around me. I am inspired by my wonderful roommate Lola. I am inspired by good energy!
What do you aim to achieve through your work?
My mom had sent me a passage from a book she was reading about Michelangelo some time ago. In this passage, Michelangelo’s mentor explains “the purpose of painting is to be decorative, to bring stories to life, to make people happy”. This is something that had always resonated deeply with me. When I first started these drawings, I was going through a tough time mentally, and drawing was my way to create joy in my life. When I first shared the drawings with my friends, it seemed to make them happy too. Ever since that moment, Art by J. Arthur has had the aim; to spread joy.
Can you talk to us a bit about your art installation for ‘’Leche Vitrines’’?
This installation is a commentary on how the pandemic has affected me, and perhaps others. This last year has been a difficult challenge psychologically for many, and the reopening of everything has also come with its hardships. It has been a moment for us to pause, reflect and rethink how we want to live our lives. Many of us found comfort in this isolation and although we do want to re-enter the social world, it takes time. The single red character enclosed in the black frame of the store is a symbol of this, a symbol of confinement. The stance is meant to be reflective, confused, but also hopeful. Noticeably, the part leaving the enclosed area are the two fingers saying peace to the world; I am looking forward to leaving this moment of isolation, just at my own pace. I hope this mural can connect this idea with the people passing by, make them feel less alone in this struggle. I hope it makes people contemplate what we have been through and finally I hope, in some way, it makes people happy!
Art by J. Arthur