Local artist exhibit opens at GSAÉD-owned restaurant

Café Nostalgica, the Graduate Students’ Association (GSAÉD)-owned restaurant and arts and culture hub on the University of Ottawa campus, has opened its latest exhibit of local artwork.

Curious Characters, which launched March 1, is a display of the intricate graphic drawings of Ottawa artists Lucie B. and Ben van D.

Both artists are members of the Ottawa art collective, Studio LaMouche, which Lucie B. founded. The collective began as a way to print artwork on T-shirts, and now sells original work of many mediums.

“We’re getting new artists joining all the time,” says Lucie. “It’s a curated collection. We have exhibitions around town, an online store, and pop-up shops at festivals.” The pop-up shop also appears at the U of O in the fall in the University Centre.

Curious Characters is Studio LaMouche’s latest exhibit, and includes graphic drawings and prints that use an abstract take on anatomy. Lucie B’s pieces in the show are part of her ongoing “Fly” collection, which includes black-and-white prints of the insect taking part in human activities—in one drawing he is playing a guitar, in another wearing a suit. The idea was inspired by British street artist Banksy and the rats he includes in many of his paintings.

Ben van D’s work uses a similar graphic style, but focuses more on twisted, almost psychedelic images and portraits. Although their artistic styles may be similar, as made clear in Curious Characters, Lucie and Ben reached their current careers from very different paths.

Lucie is a U of O alumna, having completed a BSc. in biopharmaceutical science and a MSc. in organic chemistry. Ben, however, is a graphic designer by trade, and has been producing content for the House of Commons since 2010. His brightly coloured yet grotesque style creates eccentric, illustrative pieces. Their respective approaches to visual design are combined perfectly in Curious Characters, and it’s often difficult to tell their illustrations apart.

This is Lucie’s second exhibit at Café Nostalgica, and she enjoys working with a venue she says matches her artwork’s target market. “Students don’t often have a lot of money to spend,” she says, “so we put up prints and other lower-price pieces. Typically they’re interested in our graphic style.”

While both artists also explore mediums such as painting and collage, Ben and Lucie primarily work from digital formats to create their work, many times inspired by an initial illustration. “We work well together,” says Lucie.

Ben and Lucie’s graphic artwork is a perfect fit for Café Nostalgica, and embodies its fun and creative vibe. Their talented illustrations seem like a natural fit for the popular student-run restaurant and venue. Studio LaMouche is set to return to Café Nostalgica in the fall with more artists.

The exhibit runs until April 1, and is there is no admission fee. Prints vary in price, but many are available for under $30. Lucie and Ben’s work can be viewed here.