Sébastien Lafleur contemplates evolution of life

By STUDY28|Violette Stepaniuk with Sébastien Lafleur

Sculpture by Sébastien Lafleur titled Échinoderme

Photos courtesy of Sébastien Lafleur

Échinoderme (Echinoderm)

Sébastien Lafleur Cork, porcupine needles, aerosol paint 8 in x 9 in x 11 cm (20 cm x 23 cm x 28 cm) 2014

What can we learn about this work?


Cork, porcupine needles and spray paint – not the kind of materials that spring to mind when one thinks of a sculpture.

But, if an artist’s intention is to create something strange, like an inside-out porcupine hide, or the twisted ribbon of DNA or the inside of the small intestine, then why not use cork, porcupine needles and spray paint.

Why this strange object, exactly?

Sébastien Lafleur is interested in our fascination with the unknown and the way we interpret what we find.

Échinoderme invites us to redefine the identity of the object,” he says, “to meditate on and rethink our natural surroundings and the evolution of life. This work suggests a hybrid organism that is a result of our constantly changing habitat.”


Although not a porcupine hide or a string of DNA, this abstract sculpture is designed to suggest a living creature.

‘Échinoderme’ (echinoderm) means sea creatures with radial symmetry such as sea urchins, starfish and sand dollars.

“Inspired by the characteristics of different living organisms, this rounded, textured shape resembles a living creature such as a mollusc or a carnivorous plant,” says Lafleur. “Its soft shell reveals a fragile but hostile interior.”


The Polymorphisme (Polymorphism) exhibition features a number of works from a series of sculptures that Lafleur created using natural and artificial components to question the evolution of the landscape trough texture and form.

“In a society where half of the population lives in cities, the environment is redefined by many paradoxes,” says the artist. “Trying to understand the way the natural world adapts to these new realities brought me to experiment with a combination of organic matter and artificial materials. The result of these experiments created a series of ‘artefacts’ that are like hybrid organisms that redefine the natural-artificial dichotomy.”

‘Polymorphism’ means existing in different forms.


“Made of materials found in forests, on river banks and in cities, my sculptures are often characterized by the unique traces and marks that can be seen on these materials,” says Lafleur.

Échinoderme’s shell is made of pieces of old cork to give impression of a soft, skin-like texture. The heavy black paint complements the porcupine needles on the inside. This unusual combination of materials is intended to challenge our perception of this object.


By using scientific designations as titles for his works and the exhibition, Lafleur directs the observer to interpret the art pieces as artefacts or specimen related to the biological or anthropological world.

Échinoderme’s organic shape and materials are familiar, but the object looks like a strange specimen from another world,” says Lafleur. “The fact that the sculpture is presented on a plinth and protected by a glass cover, helps to create an atmosphere of fascination for this mutated creature or unknown object.”

Sculpture by Sébastien Lafleur titled Échinoderme (detail)

Above: Sébastien Lafleur | Échinoderme (Echinoderm) (detail) | Cork, porcupine needles, aerosol paint | 8 in x 9 in x 11 cm (20 cm x 23 cm x 28 cm) | 2014 | Below: Échinoderme (Echinoderm), part of the Polymorphisme (Polymorphism) exhibition at the Karsh-Masson Gallery in Ottawa, Ontario

Sébastien Lafleur Échinoderme sculpture at Karsh-Masson Gallery

Polymorphisme (Polymorphism)
January 30 to March 8
Karsh-Masson Gallery
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
Google Map

Monday to Sunday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The gallery will remain open on Family Day.

Sébastien Lafleur’s exhibition Polymorphisme features recent paintings, drawings and sculptures. Inspired by architectural, digital and biological imagery, the artist combines and manipulates natural and artificial materials to create works that redefine the contemporary landscape.

Sébastien Lafleur is a multidisciplinary artist interested in painting, drawing, sculpture and video. He grew up in Ontario, trained at Centre d’Excellence Artistique (CEA) in Ottawa, earned a bachelor’s degree at UQAM in Montreal, Quebec, and now lives and works in Montreal. His work has been exhibited in Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City, and is included in several municipal and private collections.

Learn more about Sébastien Lafleur and see more examples of his work: sebastienlafleur.com

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