Describing, his drawings as falling into “a grey zone between cartooning and colour based-rendering”, illustrator Mathieu Larone says he is able to morph his practice depending on the project he’s working on. “I’m also hellbent on exploring the limits of what can and cannot be understood in an image, and using the practice and form of illustration to communicate in subtle and nonlinear ways,” he adds.
Born in Montreal and currently studying at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, Mathieu explains that he first got into illustration in a serious way back in 2017: “I met a group of artists in Montreal working out of a shared studio space called La Maison de la Bande Dessinée de Montréal. Most of them were published cartoonists and they showed me an artistic methodology that worked well with my way of drawing.”
Coming on leaps and bounds since then, Mathieu’s approach is precise and considered. Interested in communicating “that elusive liminal space between the cryptic and the understandable”, he says that the esoteric symbology found in the work of artists such as David Lynch, Andrei Tarkovsky and Pierre Huyghe provide endless inspiration for him. “I’m fascinated by how they are able to communicate non-traditionally or at the opposite of what illustration usually strives for,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I’m also drawn to people, like Tom Sachs for example, that build art through methodologies rather than relying solely on aesthetics.”
Aesthetically however, there is still much to appreciate in Mathieu’s work: strange and abstract characters, experimental compositions and panelling (a nod to the cartoon elements of his practice), beautiful texturing, and a consistent yet exploratory colour palette. Regarding the latter, he says it has become a crucial part of his work.
“I’ve always regarded it as secondary to drawing, but I’m now discovering it in more formal ways. I’ve recently started moving into a mode of representation that really needs it to communicate effectively,” he explains. “Not to sound crass, but I lift colour relationships constantly from images I admire, and reference them depending on what I’m trying to communicate. Like drawing in general, I’m interested in how you can bend those colour palettes in your favour and use them in addendum to the rest of the image.”
Speaking on the future, Mathieu says he feels torn between his interests in cartooning and illustration. Whilst working on how to dedicate himself to both styles, he’s also developing his subject matter to encompass more things “that feel personal to my experience and interests”. In the meantime however, he’s focused on finishing a book for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which will will take place later this year. “I’m super excited about the images I’m churning out for school and for my personal projects, and I guess in that way I’m really optimistic about my future.”
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