« L’esprit des dieux. L’esprit des lieux. » by Olivier Vilaire (Oski Awoyo)


February 14 2023


The Conseil



Vernissage - « L’esprit des dieux. L’esprit des lieux. » d'Olivier Vilaire (Oski Awoyo)

Exhibition programming at the Maison du Conseil mezzanine continues with L’esprit des dieux. L’esprit des lieux. by Olivier Vilaire aka Oski Awoyo!

Open to the public, the opening will take place on February 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the Atrium of the Maison du Conseil at 1210 Sherbrooke Street East in Montreal. The exhibition will then be available for viewing until April 21, 2023.

About the artist

Oski Awoyo (Olivier Vilaire) was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1984. He now lives and works in Montreal. He had a solo exhibition at Livart in 2022 and has also been featured in group exhibitions at the Museum of the Art of Today/ Department of the Invisible (MAADI) at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Imaginaires souverains at Maison de la culture Janine-Sutto, and Festival Afro Urbain 2020 at Maison d’Haïti. 

“I spent a lifetime trying to imitate people. I even used the past in the present. I’ve worn all the masks. When I started painting, I wanted to be reborn, so at 33 years old I stopped trying to do as others did. It was a chance to find the real me. I did a sort of inner archaeology, but I didn’t really know where to start digging. But there are traces. I look through everything without holding on to too much. It’s a kind of alchemy of the self through the senses, in hopes of ending up better than before. I think this profession takes confidence, even faith. So, that’s where I’m at. I have faith.”

– Oski Awoyo

About the exhibition

Drawing on his personal roots and migration story, with the spirituality and political upheaval of his home country at the forefront, the artist dramatizes the transformative, movable nature of the self in a constantly evolving, liberating body of work. A duality of identity emerges as an oscillation between the abstract and the figurative, and haunting paintings of spectral silhouettes and flamboyant colour from the realm of the oneiric, the spirit world ever-present.

Inspired by polymath author Frankétienne, Oski’s approach is infused with the spirit of Haitian gods and places and the country’s joyous abundance, its rituals celebrating life and death, mortals and angels, beasts and monsters, the sacred and the profane. 

In Port-au-Prince, street artists readily reveal their idols, and in his work Oski references the gestural and iconographic elements espoused by major figures such as Schiele and Basquiat. In works that map the intimate, the artist mixes spray-painted graffiti with sketches in charcoal and recycles cardboard, plywood, and other makeshift materials. Portraits become masks in an anthropomorphic bestiary, playing out mundane scenes at the workshop or grocery store, becoming carnivalesque as they transgress the physics of the body and take on animal shapes. Even the titles are rendered in dynamic, enigmatic language.