What was the most significant event of your career?
During the real estate crash of 1991, I bought a building in the heart of Old Montreal (corner St-Paul and St-Laurent). I moved my publishing house and opened my gallery in this historical place. I was only the third gallery to settle in the area.
Why is this your career of choice?
I’ve been close to the arts since 1978 & it was my start in publishing that brought me to travel & participate in many of the large, international fairs. Gradually, I met artists, dealers, gallery owners, collectors, etc. Soon I started collecting myself, which very quickly turned into a major passion.
What is the style of your gallery?
In the early 80s, the works of Basquiat, Keith Haring, & Kenny Scharf spoke to me more than others. While exploring their world, I quickly found myself interested in New York graffiti. At the same time, street art was developing at a high speed around the world. In the late 90s, I discovered other interesting movements such as as pop surrealism, Japanese manga, “outsiders”, comics, illustrators, etc …
What role do commercial contemporary art fairs currently play and how do you see ACPT fitting into this existing system?
Fairs attract many people from everywhere. There is a lot of work to do as an exhibitor. To do this job properly, we must use our experiences & our knowledge of artistic movements & introduce them to new collectors. Art fairs are not only about sales but also great for exposure & for building strong business relationships.
Can Montreal become a significant hub for visual arts, and if so how can it stand out?
Quebec has a small economy in terms of international scale, which is why we must build events to encourage the development of a global vision among our gallery owners and collectors. Montreal and ACPT can play a role as a hub simply by providing artistic diversity and, above all, personal and authentic content. ACPT has no pretensions but I would love to see this little fair alongside other international fairs. With the internet now, there are no borders, everything is possible!
Do you have a story of a love affair with an artist in particular?
Not really. I see myself more as a father figure who does not favourite any one child. I represent them & their individual characters equally as best I can. I love them all, I’m not looking for love stories, I’m not the groupie type.
What is the exhibition that you have presented of which you are most proud?
The opening of the new gallery space in 2010 at 6355 Saint Laurent Blvd. with the collective The Seventh Letter of Los Angeles was incredible. Ten thousand square feet of street art with Shepard Fairey, Push, Retna, Pose, Revok, Ron English, Clayton Brothers etc. It was a mega success and the following year, the MOCA (The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) invited all the artists for their 2011 Art in the Streets show under the direction of renowned curator Jeffrey Deitch. This was the first graffiti-oriented attraction of this scale in a museum. Otherwise, the Égrégore exhibition in 2014 was the show of which I am most proud. We invited fifty artists from around the world to participate & the energy was so positive that the visiting artists did not want to leave Montreal. The result resounded everywhere; the museum La Halle Saint Pierre in Paris asked us for the coordinates of several artists to present in 2015. An unforgettable performance!
In the early 2000s, we got robbed on the sly, a very large Riopelle piece .. After a while, our claim with the insurer turned sour, he offered us 25% of the price only. It was a very difficult situation and it jeopardized all of our operations. Suddenly the phone rang, it was Detective Sergeant Alain Lacoursière, “Laroche, come quick! I have your painting. It is on the lawn with the thieves. Do not ask questions, do not look. Take your painting and get the hell out.” That’s the only time I kissed a cop.
From The Book Alain Lacoursière The Columbo of the art of Sylvain Larocque
Photo credit: Jose Enrique Montes Hernandez