Visual artist Olivier Salvas is displaying 20 brightly-coloured abstract paintings for Pride until the end of September in Gastown.
Half of the pieces in “The Flamboyance Salon” exhibit are new additions to his “Flamboyant” collection, which originally launched in 2021, while the remaining are past pieces of work.
“The Flamboyant collection is about staying true to yourself,” Salvas says.
“It’s a statement of not being afraid of who you are. That’s why all the colours are big and colourful and out there. They’re meant to be statement pieces about my own quest of identity as a queer artist over time.”
Salvas mainly used acrylic for the pieces, but also worked with pastel, oil, and aerosol paints.
He launched the exhibit at the Bean Around the World coffee shop in July, but first got the idea to create it in June after seeing more hostility shown towards the 2SLGBTQ+ community through protests, hateful online comments, and the cancellation of queer events due to public pressure.
“I’ve been very preoccupied lately with the rise of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ people and that started especially with trans people, and it’s been attached to drag artists,” Salvas says.
“The rise of it, especially around Pride, I felt had to be talked about, so I decided to add another chapter to my Flamboyant collection.”
Salvas was inspired by his experiences and the stories people had shared with him about their identity when selecting different colour schemes.
“The latest pieces that I’ve done, the newest pieces from Flamboyant that [are] in The Flamboyance Salon, are all blue because I feel a lot of people are feeling blue. They want to show their sadness, but at the same time, I still wanted to be showcasing the rainbow within the pain,” he says.
Salvas says he named his collection “Flamboyant” to reclaim the word, which can be used to negatively describe a queer person, especially a gay man.
“It’s a name that spoke to me because that’s something that I would hear,” he says. “I would hear a lot, let’s say [like] going to work, ‘Oh you can be gay, but don’t be so flamboyant,’ [basically] saying that ‘We’re okay with your sexuality, but don’t show it.’”
He also chose the name after a form of gothic architecture.
“Flamboyant architecture is a European architecture that was used a lot to build churches … and growing up in the Christian setting, especially in Quebec — it was a very religious setting back in the days — I wanted to talk about rising above the power that religion held over how people would see queer people,” Salvas says.
As for naming the exhibit “The Flamboyance Salon,” he wanted to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the “Flamboyant” collection.
He was also inspired by the immersive experience of 17th century French salons, where art would be exhibited from the floor to ceiling. While salons would draw in elite crowds of art connoisseurs, he says he wanted to counter that idea by hosting the exhibit at a coffee shop to make his artwork more accessible than if it was in a gallery.
Salvas hopes people “take love” from the exhibit because he says with the rise in mental health struggles and anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate after the pandemic, now is a difficult time, especially for queer people.
Visit the exhibit at 175 West Hastings St. in Vancouver, or head to www.oliviersalvas.com to learn more.