Through the Looking Glass: Jeremy Couillard's Viscous Valley Modernizes the Design District
Gradient & Home, 2013
The contemporary art world has arrived in Dallas and it's landed at Zhulong Gallery. Jeremy Couillard is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work in different media for Viscous Valley transforms this Dragon Street space into a futuristic landscape that is like stepping into an abstracted video game.Toss what you thought you understood about painting while downing a beer at Samuel Lynne Gallery into the ether, because this is cyber art and it's about the coolest damn thing you're likely to see in West Dallas. The painting is in the graphics, no longer limiting art to the canvas, as the monitors stretch deep into a reality of Couillard's design.
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For this exhibition, Couillard works with video, sculpture and prints, using each as its own painting that throws the viewer into the role of avatar navigating the complex, colorful world in each piece. In the vein of goal-oriented electronic games, Couillard's videos hunt through these fabricated landscapes of shock pink trees and looming mountains, as if looking for something. Along the journey, there are recurring symbols of equilateral triangles and fountains, mirrored throughout the gallery in sculpture.
Near the rear of the gallery, thimble-sized potted plants are tucked into a corner, as though you've fallen through the looking glass and are now a giant in this visual game of alternate realities.
There's something mawkish, yet unusually addictive about Couillard's aesthetic, which in the world of video game design was outdated before he completed it. The graphics would seem rudimentary to creators of Doom or Mortal Kombat, but he's not crafting games to be played on the newest Xbox. Instead, Couillard's work stands in playful defiance to realism. He creates his landscapes in saccharine colors that appear like vestigial flickers of contemporary gaming. But his prints throughout the gallery give the viewer a chance to press pause on the video art and admire the intricacies of Couillard's work.
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The immensely detailed prints peek into worlds that resist cosmological principles, but there's nothing chaotic about his surrealism. It's a travelogue to exotic universes that fulfill unrealized fascinations with parallel existence. These are the homes of wealthy aliens, the elite other worlds. And for Dallas, this is a rare glimpse of the new media art that has been slow to arrive in ourcity.
Merely months into its stay on Dragon Street, Zhulong Gallery continues to prove that it's a gallery challenging the status quo of office-friendly paintings and giving contemporary art lovers a taste of the young, fresh art world.
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