Whether it’s due to genuine humility or intentionally contrived coziness, the Station 16 gallery feels approachable. Sandwiched between an Irish pub and a stylish hair salon on Boulevard Saint-Laurent and Rue Milton, the gallery specializes in graffiti and street-art inspired exhibits, making it the perfect location to house Eric Clement’s most recent exhibit, (Sm)all Good Things.
Born and raised in Montreal, Clement’s career dates back to his CEGEP days at John Abbot, where he first began studying fine arts. Not long after starting his degree, he took an extended leave of absence from school to pursue music with his band, Side C. Several years later, he returned to university to finish education at Concordia. Although he never saw success as a musician, Clement’s musical career was certainly more than just the experimental phase of a wayward artist—hip hop culture has inspired his current work.
Hip hop’s influence on contemporary street art is nothing new. From Kehinde Wiley to Jean-Michel Basquiat, artists have been incorporating urban culture into their work for decades; however, Clement’s work is a departure from his predecessors. His aesthetic is devoid of all the grittiness that is typically characteristic of hip hop visual art. Instead, his pieces are a whimsical fusion of contemporary cultural references and the nostalgic style of ’60s pop art. One painting, entitled “Thor,” features a stern viking head covered in what appears to be melted chocolate sitting atop a pez dispenser.
The paintings, true to the title of the exhibit, are small—about the size of a standard paperback novel—and simple. The exhibit is composed of 33 canvases and one T-shirt. Often featuring a familiar, but slightly altered logo or cartoon character alongside some sardonic phrase in a comic book font, the colourful paintings seem to be satiricalof the apathy and ennui of the millennial generation.
It might seem strange for a graffiti artist, whose best known work is a graphic mural on the wall of an alleyway between Saint-Laurent and Clark, to suddenly start a project that limits him to the confines of a 6×8 inch canvas—especially with subjet matter that includes Drake lyrics and poop emojis. But perhaps this is the point: His work has a sense of humor, setting him apart in an industry that is notorious for being pretentious and elitist.
In a world where one can purchase a t-shirt with a Banksy print on it at Urban Outfitters for $40, this free exhibit is a welcome change. Using a cheeky mix of sincere humility and contrived charisma, Clement is making a name for himself as a new kind of artist. (Sm)all Good Things is perfect for anyone looking for a laugh.
(Sm)all Good Things will show at Station 16 until March 4 with free admission.