French artist Vince Larue talks about spiritual, socio-cultural implications of music & counterculture art

"You must accept flying over people's head often, must accept making mistakes in whatever art form you are expressing yourself, but most of all accept no boundaries or censorship."

Vince Larue:  The Satori of Art

Vince Larue is a native of France and a citizen of the world whose drawings have appeared in books, magazines and exhibitions in France and the USA. An artist and ultra-marathoner with a formal education/background in earth sciences, and food industry. He co-authored and illustrated DARK HEAT (2012), a graphic novel written by Barry Graham. His current projects are: SOUTHWEST NOIR (2015) an illustrated collection of very short stories by a dozen of writers including internationnally acclaimed authors such Larry Fondation, James Sallis and Barry Graham. And FILLES SEULES, short stories by French author Marianne Costa.

"The concept of counterculture is vast, but defined I think as the alternative lifestyles and artistic productions to what the standardization of modern societies and nations impose on people, wrecking the initial individual conditioning to unveil the fact that everyone is unique and can express oneself in this manner." (Photos & Artwork © by Vince Larue, All rights reserved)

Self-taught, with collaborations as diverse as 13e Note Editions (a French publisher of contemporary American literature), the San Francisco Zen Center, Youthbuild Phoenix, Prison Mindfulness Institute, small Portland-based businesses, or music bands, he currently resides and works in Normandy, France.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What experiences have triggered your ideas most?

Maybe should I ask first, what ideas of mine are we talking about?  Alright, let's try anyways. a) Attempt at drawing my first and own comic book when I was barely 10 years old. b) Years of formal education, getting degrees in a few diverse fields around my 20+ years: geology, coastal engineering, food industry and sales management. c) Publishing a first graphic novel at 25, "Dark Heat" a story by Barry Graham. d) Seeing myself as a lifelong athlete; and (re)Discovering the joy of reading quite late, past 20 y.o.

How would you characterize the philosophy of your artwork?

Sometimes beautiful and brutal, when possible with a strong appeal for controversy, subversive topics, underlying messages. I'm not much of a philosopher. I'd rather see my artwork as a haiku, you get or see more than what is described or depicted, a wider, deeper impression... like in a way hard to explain.

"The underground comix were, in a comic strip format, a way to talk about society, its positions and directions in term of politics, religion, sexuality, culture, or anything that is part of the world and the universe, with a fearless focus on the ruling and invasive specie: us, humans."

What has been the relationship between music & literature in your life and art?

Both music and literature had a fundamental role, especially during some younger years, when music gives the beat to your day and that you read stuff that really speaks to you. It can all mix together and inspire, leaving traces in your artwork. It still happens from time to time, but the artist and the making of art lie beyond all that. I still pay tributes to references, sources, a lot though.

How does it affect your inspiration?

Guitar riff, lyrics flows, jams, solos, melodies... How does it affect yours?

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you?

In October 2012, meeting in person gnostic/nyingma psychedelic artist John Thompson (67, me 25), in his town of Carmel California, was one of a kind. I had interviewed him a couple years prior to our meeting, asking questions about Counterculture, and his art/life. A little bit like you're doing.

In April 2012, meeting in person (Dogo) Barry Graham, a Scottish writer and a Zen monk. This same year we published Dark Heat, a graphic novel set in Phoenix Arizona. Before that, I had done illustrations for the french translations of his books and others for his book covers. We are very close friends and see each other every once in a while in Portland Oregon, where he resides.

Two beautiful women and mothers, met in Phoenix Arizona in 2012 and 2013, one is a haunting singer-songwriter, the other is a community organizer & facilitator, both meetings are as important to me as the two male figures featured above, possibly more, and definitely more important than whatever books or music or art you may ask me about.

What is the best advice ever given you?

I have two:

“One’s ethical precepts and those of one’s most creative close friends often determines how many like-minded viewers will appreciate your art, not money or a famous name. “

“Find a tough girl, crazy neurotic girls take too much time and energy.”

"Both music and literature had a fundamental role, especially during some younger years, when music gives the beat to your day and that you read stuff that really speaks to you." 

What are your hopes and fears for the future of art?

So-called hopes are that real art contributes to turn people's attention and interest away from mass “mainstream” medias bullshit and corporate powers. In other words an antidote to ignorance and a trigger for awareness.

High hopes I guess.

Fears would be an always increasing use of so-called art for the unique sake of money and the disappearance of traditional techniques.

What do you miss most nowadays from the art of past?

Nothing. I don't even remember the art of the past, for I was not yet born.

What do you learn about yourself from the underground culture and what does Counterculture mean to you?

You must accept flying over people's head often, must accept making mistakes in whatever art form you are expressing yourself, but most of all accept no boundaries or censorship. The concept of counterculture is vast, but defined I think as the alternative lifestyles and artistic productions to what the standardization of modern societies and nations impose on people, wrecking the initial individual conditioning to unveil the fact that everyone is unique and can express oneself in this manner. And by doing so, develop a real compassionate personality.

If you could change one thing in the world & people and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I don't know, perhaps the ability we have to see a larger picture in most life-tangled situations.

"I'd rather see my artwork as a haiku, you get or see more than what is described or depicted, a wider, deeper impression... like in a way hard to explain." (Photo: Vince Larue, 2015)

What are the lines that connect the legacy of 60s psychedelic posters with the underground comix and artists?

Psychedelic posters and their special distorted lettering were invented to shift people's mind, and show something different from the fast, brainwashing and easily marketable way of communication used in advertising.

It was mostly used in rock music for the promotion of bands and concerts from the related era (60s).

The underground comix were, in a comic strip format, a way to talk about society, its positions and directions in term of politics, religion, sexuality, culture, or anything that is part of the world and the universe, with a fearless focus on the ruling and invasive specie: us, humans.

The freedom of expression was absolute and experimental, bringing a certain freshness to those electric years.

What is the impact of Rock n’ Roll Art to the racial, spiritual and socio-cultural implications?

Strong and necessary! Not only mere entertainment. Not only pleasurable. It has to challenge dogmas, ideologies, not only make us think but make us questions our thoughts and beliefs, to realize that things can also be fine outside of the self-created comfort zones and/or self-centered insecurities. A vector for change and empowerment, with a broader, more encompassing vision.

"So-called hopes are that real art contributes to turn people's attention and interest away from mass “mainstream” medias bullshit and corporate powers. In other words an antidote to ignorance and a trigger for awareness. High hopes I guess." (Blues Artists, Artwork © by Vince Larue)

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the nowadays artists?

US Cartoonist and reporter Joe Sacco's latest comics: “Bumf”, made me laugh a lot. Very satirical and provocative... underground... with the talent and precision of Joe Sacco.

Stories of artists making it through life touch me in general. Also meeting and sharing artwork recently with a talented teenage anime/manga artist from Arizona, reminded me of the time I traveled to see John Thompson and we exchanged prints of our respective works. The power of inter-generational-cultural transmission can be a very lasting source of creativity and driving force.

Where would you really wanna go via a time machine and what memorabilia (books, records) would you put in?

I’d really go nowhere but now with it. So I have no interest in time traveling.

I'll still play some John Mayall, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt... and some blues-rock records if you don't mind.

How you would spend a day with Milarepa?

Waiting for nighttime, walking around or sitting still, so then we can go play pool in a dive bar and have a beer at night.

What would you say to Johnny Winter? What would you like to ask Bukowski?

Johnny...Thanks for the great music, you're my favorite guitar player.

Hank...How does it feel to be Charles Bukowski?

The Art Of Vince Larue - Home

Charles Bukowski & Milarepa (poster) , Artwork © by Vince Larue

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