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The playful queering of art history with Vincent Chorabik (BFA 2020)

Vincent explores environmentalism, LGBTQ+ identity, and pride/pleasure through their practice. Blurring the line and teasing apart the relationship between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art, Vincent has shifted their process to become more eco-conscious, choosing to use found materials or digital collages in lieu of traditional materials.

“During the summer of 2019, I decided to become a more eco-conscious artist and abandoned analogue painting and collage for digital mediums that produce less waste,” said Vincent. In the fall, they created the work Lioness (pictured below) using remnants of their acrylic paint on found fabric. “It was a means of honouring the materials and saying goodbye to them, particularly the acrylic, which is essentially liquid plastic,” said Vincent. “Creating Lioness was a pivotal step toward reducing waste, celebrating queer identity, and empowering women and non-binary people to feel pride in their bodies regardless of their physical appearance.”

“While I have moved away from creating physical paintings, the spirit of Lioness moves with me in my digital practice,” said Vincent, who has also begun to celebrate queerness by rewriting art history through their work, Phann’s (Mis)Adventures, a fantasy narrative told through digital forms. “Phann’s (Mis)Adventures #8 is the first iteration of this ‘comedy erotica’ genre I’m working on,” continued Vincent. “I’m not 100% satisfied with it yet, but I’m excited about its potential.”

Lioness (2019) by Vincent Chorabik, Acrylic Paint on Found Fabrics, 10 x 7.5 Feet.

Currently Phann’s (Mis)Adventures references a lot of 18th century works because of the opulent wealth being portrayed in lavish environments. “There is something simultaneously funny and horrifying about this opulence,” said Vincent. “As a painting, these environments and costumes are beautiful, but when we think about what this kind of wealth means in real life it becomes disheartening. I chose to portray the embodiment of 18th century wealth as a vampire because I see how the 1% leach off the labour of others, and I wanted to poke fun at that.”

The work also pulls from paperback erotica typically found at the grocery store checkout. Vincent shared that they drew inspiration from best-of lists as well as comic books. “I tried to give them a new spin by portraying a non-binary character that’s learning about their identity,” said Vincent. The reimagining of these storylines gives space for those who identify as non-binary to see themselves reflected in popular culture, art history, and intimacy within literature.

“My goal in art is to create a playful and safe space to discuss environmentalism and LGBTQ+ identities,” said Vincent. “While I have abandoned physical art mediums, I will continue pushing the boundaries of digital art and carving out a space for queer narratives in contemporary art.”

“Just what is it that makes yesteryear’s taverns so different, so appealing?” (2019) by Vincent Chorabik, digital collage, 24 x 36 inches.

Vincent wants their art to be accessible and playful, so they use a de-skilled child-like drawing style for content, digitally manipulating content while allowing the process to show through (e.g. the piece Just what is it that makes yesteryear’s taverns so different, so appealing? showing a Last Supper scene with visible Shutterstock logos on the hands). This playfulness is seen throughout Vincent’s work, sometimes more overt than others, including during their time at ECU and the piece, Missing Painting – Reward 1,000,000.

For those not in on the joke, Vincent circulated posters offering a reward for work that was said to be stolen from the Vancouver Art Gallery around the city for a week, and then made sure they placed the artwork in a location where it would be found by someone of upper-middle class.

“As I was circulating the posters many homeless people grew really excited at the possibility of finding something worth that kind of money. I realized that it could be really harmful to them and they weren’t the target of my gag,” explained Vincent. “I placed the artwork in Pink Alley – a place which is frequently visited by teens and young adults for Instagram pictures. It’s not too far away from the Vancouver Art Gallery so someone could carry the work over there.”

Missing Painting – Reward 1,000,000 by Vincent Chorabik

“The work was rather large and heavy, which made it ever funnier,” continued Vincent. “These three guys ended up finding it and bringing it to the gallery. The staff told them that they didn’t know anything about it, so the kids ended up contacting me as I was listed as the artist of the painting. I told them, ‘How do I know you really have the painting? Take a photo with it.’ They ended up sending me this hilarious photo of them standing next to it and they wanted their reward. I told them that their reward was the painting and they got mad saying they wanted 500 dollars each.”

Vincent shares that the conversation essentially ended there, but that the kids couldn’t have been too upset since one of the trio still follows them on Instagram. This piece is how we were introduced to Vincent’s work in Alumni Relations and we knew this would be an artist to keep our eyes on. In reflecting back on their time at ECU and what potential their career holds, Vincent shared an important reminder to fellow artists.

“As artists and humans, we’re always making mistakes, but we can’t be afraid of them,” said Vincent. “We have to stay genuine and keep becoming better version of ourselves. It’s so easy to be frightened away from making art, especially making art that we love, because there is always someone better than us or someone telling us that we aren’t good enough. That doesn’t matter. The whole point of art is to express oneself, to learn, and to grow. The best way to do all of those things is just to make art fearlessly.”

Follow Vincent on Instagram and learn more about their work here

Missing Painting – Reward 1,000,000 by Vincent Chorabik, found in Pink Alley
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