The Belgo Report » Natalie Zayne http://www.thebelgoreport.com News and reviews of art exhibitions in the Belgo Building Fri, 15 Jan 2016 19:12:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.9 Together turning in time: family, nature and the ties that bind at Galerie Trois Points http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/09/together-turning-in-time-family-nature-and-the-ties-that-bind-at-galerie-trois-points/ http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/09/together-turning-in-time-family-nature-and-the-ties-that-bind-at-galerie-trois-points/#comments Mon, 09 Sep 2013 19:08:04 +0000 http://www.thebelgoreport.com/?p=4392 Anne-Renée Hotte at Galerie Trois Points

After the relative tranquility of the summer months at the Belgo building, September has ushered in a tide of new exhibitions on its (unusually crisp) breeze. Saturday’s veritable festival of vernissages heralded this shift, and the energy and quality of the offerings was like a tonic.

Galerie Trois Points presented Anne-Renee Hotte’s newest work, Toutes les familles heureuses se ressemblent. The main space of the gallery had been cut on a diagonal by the middle wall, an unusual architectural decision that heightened my awareness and attention to perception. Embedded in this wall were eleven screens of varying sizes in a non-linear arrangement. Each video depicted a pair of people in a family—a father and son, elderly sisters, or young lovers, for example— in a natural landscape. Some sat with their arms around each other, one held a boy in his raised arms, some faced each other, hands on shoulders, forming a bridge. They made only the most subtle movements—a child swung her legs slowly, as if she was a mechanical doll come alive; a thumb moved back and forth across a fur coat. Each of these couples turned, slowly, as if standing on a rotating disc below the frame.

Hotte continues her meditation on family relations, generations and the cycles of time in these simple and quiet, but rich, images. Her work evokes for me a sense of ritual and archetypes but is not obvious or dogmatic. The sense of alive stillness emanating from these people somehow makes their human-ness easier to see: in their relation to and care of the other, and in the ties of love and belonging.

The adjoining gallery was darkened, and it was as though a different time had been summoned. In a large black-and-white photograph on the far wall the family appeared again, dressed in white and assembled in a group, very much like pictures of family picnics from the earliest days of outdoor photography. The childrens’ faces were blurred, their constant movement at odds with the demands of the long exposure time. There was something haunting about it, as there often is when we look at very old photographs. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that these ossified scenes were once animated by the sounds, smells and movements of a real day, now far in the past.

There was a further oddness to these figures that I couldn’t quite place, though, a kind of ghostly distortion in their faces. They seemed out of place, actually, and consequently seemed out of time, but only just. It made me wonder whether they are an eternal family that travels together through time, never quite settling in one before moving on. I also thought about what a strange thing family is—who are these people that we are born into knowing, how random are these assemblages of people with whom we are, nonetheless, inescapably connected?

Behind that wall was mounted a small, white tree of sorts illuminated by a spotlight, casting a filamentous shadow. It suggested death, but also a release from the cycles of growth and decay. It wasn’t perfectly shaped, it was singular. It is much like how I feel about Hotte’s work in general: elegant and full of suggestion, but retaining that important core of mystery that compels us to keep looking.

This beautifully presented exhibition runs from September 7 until October 5, 2013.

Galerie Trois Points, space 520
Anne-Renée Hotte
Toutes les familles heureuses se ressemblent
September 7 – October 5, 2013
www.galerietroispoints.com

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The Hand That Rocks the Medium: Oil and Ink in a Beautiful Twist at Galerie Luz http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/07/the-hand-that-rocks-the-medium-oil-and-ink-in-a-beautiful-twist-at-galerie-luz/ http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/07/the-hand-that-rocks-the-medium-oil-and-ink-in-a-beautiful-twist-at-galerie-luz/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 15:01:38 +0000 http://www.thebelgoreport.com/?p=4255 Chris Klein at Galerie Luz
Chris Klein at Galerie Luz

If doubts persist as to the value of “the hand-made” in contemporary art, as opposed to visual sleight of technology, for example, the double exhibition at Galerie Luz helps to further allay them.

Well-known painter Chris Klein, British by birth but currently sharing his time between Quebec and Ontario, presents a series of canvases depicting theatre costumes hanging in a wardrobe. They appear to be the regalia of the Shakespearean variety, and indeed Klein, who is also a scenic artist for film and theatre, is presently serving as the head of scenic art at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada in Ontario.

Klein’s reverence for both theatre and painting is clearly evident in these beautiful works. I found myself drawn in particular to those that were almost flooded with light by an external source of illumination: the garments, while inert and still, emanated some kind of potentiality. I liked to think that this glow reflected the energy and life of the wearers that had sweat and moved and spoke in them in the past, and also the anticipation of future bodies and future performances. Klein’s work certainly gives the term “still life” an added dimension.

In a peculiar redoubling of history, these paintings are the result of a very current engagement with the traditional medium of the theatre and its production. To paint in oil, moreover, is to dialogue with traditional (western) art practices as well. Presented in series, the works form a poetics of observation as a repeated and prolonged meditation on these beautiful fabrics, folds, pleats and colours.

In Gallery II, the almost-unbelievable drawings of Meredith Cape / Mierte await. At first unsure of what I was looking at, let alone how they might have been done, I was lucky to speak to the artist in person, which both cleared things up and heightened the intrigue. The drawings are entirely in black ink, done with pens of varying thickness. Every line of course done by hand, each picture (in particular the two large ones, I am assuming), took several months to complete. This may be partly the reason why Cape doesn’t remember how each one starts, but it is also commensurate with the highly organic effect of these images. The artist remarked that she wanted to try to cover the whole space, to fill it up. This is a deceptively simple statement because her works are highly intricate, dense, and dynamic. They are also not comprised of merely random forms and shapes: they develop and entwine a complex and personal language of symbols and elements of the natural and the man-made world, neither necessarily overwhelming the other. For example, the artist pointed out a stream of lacy organic shapes on the large work on the far wall: rocks in Georgian Bay. They in turn became the bank of a Medusa-like current of thick plaits of rope, a motif that repeats in various forms throughout her drawing.

If things like geological formations are summoned, looking closely at Cape’s work also gives the sense of life under a microscope—maybe tissues and fibres of flesh, striations of muscle, agglomerations of lipids. Through a dynamic of the lines’ varying densities and thicknesses a surprising depth is created too.

These presentations, which run until July 27, join Nathalie Savoie’s exhibition of small works on vellum, which occupies the (appropriately) small space in the rear of the gallery. All offerings are well worth the visit.

Galerie Luz, space 418
Chris Klein, Meredith Cape/Mierte, Nathalie Savoie
July 3 – 27, 2013
www.galerieluz.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Under the influence and across time: Galerie Trois Points’ group exhibition “Chacun Montre à Chacun” http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/06/under-the-influence-and-across-time-galerie-trois-points-group-exhibition-chacun-montre-a-chacun/ http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/06/under-the-influence-and-across-time-galerie-trois-points-group-exhibition-chacun-montre-a-chacun/#comments Thu, 13 Jun 2013 14:17:49 +0000 http://www.thebelgoreport.com/?p=4192 Joseph Beuys at Galerie Trois Points
Joseph Beuys at Galerie Trois Points

Jean-Michel Basquiat once remarked, “If you wanna talk about influence, man, then you’ve got to realize that influence is not influence. It’s simply someone’s idea going through my new mind.” In Galerie Trois Points’ current group exhibition, Chacun Montre à Chacun, the often contentious question of influence—is it inspiration or derivative?—is brought to the fore. Five contemporary artists, mostly from Quebec—Sylvain Bouthillette, Evergon, Mario Côté, Richard Mill and Michel Daigneault— were asked to present a work of their own alongside a work from an artist who informed their practice.

I need to admit here that I didn’t know this when I entered the gallery. Like a moth to flame I was lured by the exuberant promise of highly coloured, large abstract canvases glimpsed in both the front and side rooms of Trois Points. I then became increasingly curious about the possible links between such works and the others of varying media.

In the second room a large photograph by Evergon (Clipper, 2013) of two nude men, one in the process of shaving the body of the other with shears, is guarded by a small vitrine containing a small magazine of a certain vintage, its drawings depicting beautiful young men in various homoerotic scenarios, by Tom of Finland in the 1950s. I then stepped closer to the sketches on the far wall which I admired a lot. They were loose but elegant and seemed to be describing a landscape. They were diptychs actually, the scrawled name “Beuys” on the left and the drawing on the right. Ah–Joseph Beuys! Aside from his 1960s artistic-pedagogical performances (and telling stories to dead hares while sitting in lard chairs covered in felt, etc.), his drawing is beautiful. (Why does that revelation always feel so satisfying?) Beuy’s drawings, which in turn were “after” those of Leonardo da Vinci, were selected by Sylvain Bouthillette, whose 2006 painting “Joseph Beuys s’accelerant vers la vacuite” depicts a many-times-enlarged bird, in what looks like a digital print of some kind, emerging from a dark and deep background that evokes the cosmos.

Mario Côté’s large and brilliantly coloured canvas in the front room was adjacent to a smaller but aesthetically-related work of Fernand Leduc. Richard Mill’s nearly-monumental sized canvas was divided in two by muted, military tones. The energetic force of this gap between two large forms is clear also in the print next to it by Ellsworth Kelly, a painter affiliated with the American Abstract Expressionist movement in mid-twentieth century. (Mill’s work also reminded me of Charles Gagnon’s work—his 1993 work Creation of the Universe is currently on view in the MAC’s abstraction exhibition.) Michel Daigneault’s large abstract canvas ESPION intriguingly claims an aesthetic relation with Inuit artist Pudlo Pudlat’s drawings. Irrespective of the gap between cultures, media and scale, I can see it: there is a kind of mystic feeling to both that comes from their bright clear colours and unaffected style.

There is never (or there shouldn’t be) a clearly outlined and highly legible relation between artists’ work. These works on view show two possible points of surfacing in an artist’s practice, moments that cannot, thankfully, describe the process of internalizing and re-translating influence throughout one’s career. Moreover, in a culture of appropriation and quotation—and the consequent decrease in emphasis of citing others’ work when used—the exercise of naming an artistic source is an interesting one. But it also suggests another issue, one that is particularly pertinent in an age of self-fashioning in social media and related avenues: it points to the power behind claiming a certain affiliation for yourself. In the artistic world, furthermore, when the influences are in some way made visible and names, when well-known, are powerful markers of art’s directions, this is a way to embed oneself within a heritage and belong to a tradition.

It is also worth noting that every artist in the exhibition is male and born before 1963. The patrilineal character of artistic traditions (and of those who break the traditions, even!) is certainly a foundational aspect of our acquaintance with art, which could well have been framed as such. While reasserting this practice, Chacun Montre à Chacun provides us with excellent work and plenty of material for discussion. I highly recommend this show, which runs until June 22.

Galerie Trois Points, space 520
Sylvain Bouthillette, Mario Cote, Michel Daigneault, Evergon, Richard Mill
Joseph Beuys, Ellsworth Kelly, Fernand Leduc, Pudio Pudiat, Tom of Finland
Chacun Montre à Chacun
May 25 – June 22, 2013
www.galerietroispoints.com

 

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Dan Brault’s Paintings Light the Way to The Good Times at Laroche/Joncas http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/04/dan-braults-paintings-light-the-way-to-the-good-times-at-larochejoncas/ http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/04/dan-braults-paintings-light-the-way-to-the-good-times-at-larochejoncas/#comments Tue, 23 Apr 2013 15:43:15 +0000 http://www.thebelgoreport.com/?p=3970 Dan Brault

Dan Brault’s new painting series The Good Times exploded onto the scene last Saturday at Galerie Laroche/Joncas. With the exception of one smaller black and white work, the paintings are vividly coloured, their many elements oscillating between vying for the surface of the visual field and retreating from it. It was a feast for the eyes and happily a kind of game for my little brain.

Brault deploys a range of textures and styles that point to a knowledge of, and a desire to tangle with, art history. There is a strong graphic Op-Art component produced in part by an inventive deployment of digitally-produced stencil; Impressionistic, not-quite familiar shapes and contours; Expressionist swipes of colour and lyrical abstract forms. There is even a Surrealist undercurrent, as Brault has constructed, against underpainted backgrounds of lush, primordial greens and blues, strange worlds of floating, almost-recognizable elements. One of the larger canvases in particular, featuring a centrally-placed, beautifully painted fish (I’m sorry I can’t be more species-specific) lent itself most readily to an underwater world feeling, an ecosystem of shapes, colours and suggestions in various depths.

It is clear that Brault is a practicing recipient of the street art and graffiti traditions as well— the strong graphic quality, the expressionistic scrawl of sprayed tags, and the use of brilliant colour are, to me, as much an influence of this as anything you’d find in an art history canon. (Though these influences, too, have been slightly modified in their translation to canvas: as gallery co-owner Louis Joncas remarked, the flagrant use of hot pink in one work in particular has been tempered to a palatable level by being overworked and dirtied up.)

With all those elements it would seem to be easy to veer off the compositional field, but I think he has succeeded with the deft and skillful combination and composition of these elements. Moreover they’re full of little surprises—there is a lot of humour to this work.

While there are as many painting styles these days as snowflakes in an April snowstorm—and as I suggested above, many of which can be found in the same painting—it seems to me that there is a strong current of formalism in painting happening right now, one that is reworking its own tradition so that it feels very contemporary. I have seen a lot of work lately that mixes graphic and expressionistic styles and suggests shallow but tantalizing depths in their abstractions. Bright, Pop colours are common and the composition and colour seem to be the content, rather than a represented subject matter.  To me it feels strong and optimistic, and as we concede time and time again in painting, there is never any limit to what can take place within the parameters of the canvas frame.

Good times indeed. The show will be up until May 11.

Galerie Laroche/Joncas, space 410
Dan Brault
The Good Times
April 11 – May 11, 2013
www.larochejoncas.com

 

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The Good Fight: Game On at the 20th Annual Edgy Women Festival http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/03/the-good-fight-game-on-at-the-20th-annual-edgy-women-festival/ http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/03/the-good-fight-game-on-at-the-20th-annual-edgy-women-festival/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2013 14:31:28 +0000 http://www.thebelgoreport.com/?p=3864 Studio 303 - Edgy Women - Heather Cassils
Edgy Women - Heather Cassils | Photo credit: Heather Cassils & Robin Black, courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Edgy Women Festival, an annual interdisciplinary arts festival produced by Studio 303. For this year’s theme, ART/SPORTS/GENDER, I ventured off Belgo territory and found myself at the Chat Bleu Boxing Club on Beaubien, where Game On, the main event of the week-long festival, was about to kick off. It was a three-hour happening that featured participatory installations, short works and durational performances. In a sort of spectator-circuit-training fashion, the events took place consecutively in various areas of the spacious, hardwood floor gym, and like good sports fans, we followed the action. Sometimes, as was the case where the trio of bodybuilders offered free rides around the ring, some of us really joined the show.

The body-building pageant kicked off the night. The three athletes—two women and one very burly man—took their turns, taking the official poses designed to showcase the muscle, moving slowly for full effect. Knowing little about this culture, I was struck by how their smiles matched their bodies: disciplined and held in position.

Judith Depaule/Mabel Octobre took to the ring next, and with a steely glare and unwavering focus unfurled a slow and deliberate performance that moved between muscular athleticism and balletic grace. Her costume was fantastic: a cyborg-effect muscle suit made of balloons, including some to fully inflate a white conical bra. At one point she slowly peeled it off to reveal the much-smaller form beneath. It was like an awkward chrysalis opening, or the way Olympia might have done a striptease.

We shuffled over to the mats, where an unmistakably feline pair languidly stretched and coiled themselves in various poses in varying states of (un)dress: they appeared to be cat-models of a friperie, the proprietess attending to their styling.

Heather Cassils’ performance, Becoming an Image, took place in a completely blacked-out room within the weight room area. We filed into the darkness and were told by the helpful coordinator to keep to the perimeter “or you might get punched.” Suddenly, a flashbulb went off, illuminating the ferocious body of Cassils and a tall plinth of grey clay: the fight, between Cassils and this obdurate mass, had begun. It was incredible: the flashes, which coincided with the photographic camera, documenting these moments, caused intense afterimages, which danced away in our eyes in the darkness. Cassils would then appear on the other side with the next flash, and so it went. The incredible force and exertion was evidenced by the thuds of her fists and body against the clay and in her voice. By the end, the plinth was a low-lying, amorphous “sculpture,” riddled with the imprints and blows received. The strength of the work (to use an easy pun) was in its shock and bodily immersion of the spectator, but also the rich parade of allusions and issues it brought forth: suggesting certain paintings and sculptures from our art-historical past; bringing out questions of gender, violence and absorbed struggle; even the primordial weight of clay itself.

It might be purely circumstantial but I’ve managed to happen upon several works in various places in Montreal recently that explore the ideas of athletic women in staged scenarios of battle, contest, or demonstration of physicality. Obviously, the entire Edgy Women Festival, but also Hito Steyerl’s November, now showing at the SBC Gallery, which mixes the real-life heroism of Andrea Wolf with her martial arts movie character (and in a more subtle way, in moments of Harun Farocki’s Respite, in the same place); Alex Monteith’s Passing Manoeuvre with Two Motorcycles and 584 Vehicles, a double-channel video of two female motorcycle stunt drivers, currently part of Material Traces at Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery; and, only because I just watched it, Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse. And having just celebrated International Women’s Day last week, it seems more fitting than ever—though the goal, really, is for a year-round awareness of women, sport and strength. Thanks for all your hard work ladies.

Studio 303, space 303
Edgy Women Festival
March 2 – 10, 2013
www.edgywomen.ca
www.studio303.ca

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The Lives of Images of Lives: Harun Farocki and Hito Steyerl at the SBC Gallery http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/03/the-lives-of-images-of-lives-harun-farocki-and-hito-steyerl-at-the-sbc-gallery/ http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/03/the-lives-of-images-of-lives-harun-farocki-and-hito-steyerl-at-the-sbc-gallery/#comments Wed, 13 Mar 2013 17:09:32 +0000 http://www.thebelgoreport.com/?p=3839 The Image Factory at SBC Gallery for Contemporary Art

“Everything that is said straightforward and with no contradictions, it is always wrong.” So said a former Kurdish freedom fighter in Hito Steyerl’s 2004 video work November, but it is an apt warning that applies to both video pieces—November and Harun Farocki’s 2007 work Respite—that comprise the SBC Gallery’s current exhibition, The Production of Images.

Projected in the small annex room painted black, Harun Farocki’s Respite consists of silent footage from the Westerbork Police Jewish Transit Camp in the Netherlands during the Second World War.  Commissioned by the Nazi camp commander, the footage had been intended to become a documentary extolling the camp’s virtues: its harmonious and self-sufficient industries and services (the Westerbork hospital, staffed entirely by Jews, was the largest in the Netherlands for many years), its contented and industrious inmates and its unique and important function as a transit camp—certainly innocent of the kinds of war crimes that were already being suggested at the time.

At Westerbork the smiling inmates seem to be conscious of almost having created their own world—in song and dance productions, in farming, in communal exercise, crafts, and industry. The emotional weight of the footage is tied to the knowledge that we have of these camps retrospectively: of course they had no idea that the trains that hundreds boarded each Tuesday were taking them to places that no one had imagined possible. In the rearview, the document makes a chilling mockery of the dream of many Jews of escaping to Palestine before and during the war, which was often the false promise given by Nazi officials.

It seems that in a sense, the camera’s complicity was as insidious as the lies about the true function of Westerbork and the extermination camps themselves: after all, if it was being filmed, how could it be that bad?

Hito Steyerl’s November documents (maybe allegorizes is better?) a different era and a different struggle, one that is highly personal as well as fragmented and plural. Narrated by Steyerl herself, it takes as its subject her best friend, Andrea Wolf, who became a member of the German Revolutionary Left in the 1990s. She was killed in 1998 as a PKK, a Kurdish freedom fighter, and made a martyr for the Kurdish cause.

In contrast to the single source of footage and the relative formal simplicity of Farocki, Steyerl’s work exuberantly exploits the links and overlaps of filmed “truth” and fiction, and the strange coincidences that occur between them. For example, clips of Steyerl’s first movie—a feminist martial arts film made in 1983 that starred Wolf as an indomitable champion of justice and perennial victor in her battles with the male villains—were interspliced with Bruce Lee’s last movie and real-life funeral, both of which were echoed in footage documenting Wolf’s role as a revolutionary fighter, and then martyr, for the Kurds a decade later. (Moreover, Wolf had maintained her martial arts practice throughout her life). Cameras and martial arts: this is how war is waged in these heroic struggles.

November speaks about the fallout after the big wars and revolutions, when “peripheral struggles become particularized, localist, and impossible to communicate.” It reveals the ways that these struggles are often both invisible (the war in Northern Kurdistan was “a white spot on the map, it occurred in a vacuum”) and close to home—the Kurds (as well as the Roma and Sinti) who lived in Germany were treated as aliens to the nation.

Steyerl’s work is more complex and harder to succinctly describe than Farocki’s, but this it strikes me as an appropriate reflection of the postmodern period it documents. To me, its greatest strength is the surprise coherence of its disparate elements.

As part of the SBC’s ongoing inquiry into the relation of image production and sovereignty, the subjects of these works bear a historical—and geographical—connection with that of Yael Bartana’s remarkable film, And Europe Will Be Stunned, which preceded the present works at the gallery. Whether in Poland (Bartana), the Netherlands (Farocki) and Germany (Steyerl), each illustrate the ways that countries have turned on their own populations and divided themselves from within, before and after wars. They seem to point to a reckoning with the past (and in the case of Steyerl’s and Bartana’s work, a reckoning led by a youthful revolutionary idealism). The real potential of these assessments lies in their recognition that power resides in who wields the camera as well as their deployment of fiction as an imaginative tool that can bring about actual change.

I highly recommend this exhibition that represents the SBC’s dedication to presenting sophisticated and exciting video work.

SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art, space 507
Harun Farocki and Hito Steyerl
The Image Factory
February 28 – April 27, 2013
www.sbcgallery.ca

 

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Sensory Sonnambulists: Cave Entertainment for an A/V People at ARPRIM http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/02/sensory-sonnambulists-cave-entertainment-for-an-av-people-at-arprim/ http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/02/sensory-sonnambulists-cave-entertainment-for-an-av-people-at-arprim/#comments Sat, 16 Feb 2013 21:27:25 +0000 http://www.thebelgoreport.com/?p=3770 Philippe Blanchard at Arprim

With his immersive audio-visual installation New Troglodytes, Toronto-based artist Philippe Blanchard has transformed Arprim into a techno-primordial cave, one that both hearkens to our prehistoric past and our techno-bricolage present.

Visually, it’s a little like entering a big-pixeled and brightly-coloured video game from the 1980s. The entire space is wrapped in screen-printed paper in varying zig-zagging dimensions and colours. Slender pyramids affixed to both floor and ceiling suggest the simplified forms of stalactites and stalagmites (I will never be able to remember which is which). The space is lit with strobe lights and projectors, whose alternating red, green and blue lamps react with the spectrum of coloured paper: the whole room is in motion. It’s mesmerizing: like my eight-year old self hypnotized by the formally simple yet inexhaustible worlds of those 80s video games, here I was wandering around the space grinning like a fool, marveling at the magic of this simple technology.

The strobes and projectors have been synchronized with an electro soundtrack composed by Fan Fiction (the stage name of Toronto-based artist Steph Davidson). The borders between entertainment—shows and clubs, electronic music festivals, after-hours—and art—this is still a gallery—happily blurred.

I liked that the word I was left with was “surface.” This is not a criticism. The walls and sculptures were animated surfaces. I thought of the surfaces in my eye that were inundated with this information: the colours were dancing on my retina. Even when I closed my eyes, they were there still: as Goethe discovered in his famous after-image experiments, a surface can be virtual, conjured by the visual apparatus alone. Viewers seem intended to walk around and inspect all areas of the space, not to try to penetrate any volumes with our eyes or thoughts. The music was good, I liked the feeling of being part of this little trip away from the grey light of February.

On March 2, as part of Nuit Blanche, Arprim invites the public to come visit New Troglodytes on its last night of captivating animation, where it will be joined in rhythm by Montreal musicians such as Dranolith, Hobo Cubes and The World Provider.

Arprim, space 426
Philippe Blanchard
New Troglodytes
January 25 – March 2, 2013
www.arprim.org

 

 

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Held in Suspension: Béchard and Hudon’s “Individual Times” at Laroche/Joncas Gallery http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/02/held-in-suspension-bechard-and-hudons-individual-times-at-larochejoncas-gallery/ http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/02/held-in-suspension-bechard-and-hudons-individual-times-at-larochejoncas-gallery/#comments Thu, 07 Feb 2013 15:45:21 +0000 http://www.thebelgoreport.com/?p=3710 Catherine Béchard & Sabin Hudon at Galerie Laroche/Joncas

On January 31, Galerie Laroche/Joncas opened Temps individus/Individual times, a “solo” show of Montreal-based duo Catherine Béchard & Sabin Hudon. The artistic investigations of the pair include sound sculpture, kinetic sound installations, audio art, electronic art and performance. Animated objects and their components have been at the heart of their research and creation from the very beginning.

This kinetic sound piece contains a cluster of loud speakers inserted into the lids of multi-sized glass jars. They rest on slipmats and are each topped with a glass dome that can be raised through a system of electromechanical pulleys. Audio cables linked to amplifiers cluster around the glass devices strewn across the floor.

This installation is derived from a questioning of the nature of silence, its dynamic rather than oppositional relationship with sound, and the space that supposed silence opens up for deeper perception. As John Cage demonstrated with his game-changing 4:33 sixty years ago—a performance in which Cage sat at a piano for four minutes and thirty-three seconds, never playing a note—, when we bracket off time or space we can become better observers of the ambient noise that surrounds us all the time. Moreover the composer or artist has relinquished control of what the viewer sees and hears, giving it over to chance and external, invisible forces rather than any one person’s aesthetic choices.

Béchard and Hudon’s work, like certain other contemporary installation practices—such as that of Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, for example—leave the mechanism of the work’s movement and sound fully visible to the viewer. Yet there is an element of mystery involved which compels us to observe even more closely and attentively. There is an unclear system of triggers and effects at work here, a system that seems to include us the spectators as we move carefully around the jars, domes, pulleys, cables, and amplifiers. When I first entered the gallery, all was quiet and all glass domes sat on their jars. It took some time for things to begin: a dome would slowly, hesitantly lift, sometimes only 20 centimetres. A ghostly breath hisses in decrescendo. You guess that it comes from the jar/dome complex but it’s hard to tell from which one exactly. When five or six people had been in the space for several minutes, some walking around, some squatting and leaning against the walls, the domes had all risen and were now suspended high up, above our heads. Coupled with the unpredictable and very sporadic emissions of amplified breath, this moment was truly one of suspension—held breath, held glass above the floor, our collective anticipation for some change, which could well be scarcely perceptible.

As the written material accompanying the show describes, “The repetitive movements of breath and glass domes are the prerequisites of time transformations, engaging us to become observers of gaps and variations, rather then keepers of time.” A time-based work that is also reliant on the kinetic activity of the spectator, I would argue, does one better by erasing the difference between the passive and active spectator. We and the work seem to be rather engaging an idiosyncratic time(s) together, becoming what Boris Groys calls “collaborator[s], comrade[s] of time, true con-temporar[ies].”[1]

This installation will await your kinetic presence until March 31, 2013.


[1] Boris Groys, Going Public, E-Flux Journal (Sternberg Press, 2010), 101.

Galerie Laroche/Joncas, space 410
Catherine Béchard & Sabin Hudon
Individual Times
January 31 – March 2, 2013
www.larochejoncas.com

 

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Fine Points in Time: Three Artists at Galerie Trois Points http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/01/fine-points-in-time-three-artists-at-galerie-trois-points/ http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2013/01/fine-points-in-time-three-artists-at-galerie-trois-points/#comments Wed, 23 Jan 2013 18:10:24 +0000 http://www.thebelgoreport.com/?p=3658 Natalie Grimard at Galerie Trois Points

Natalie Grimard at Galerie Trois Points

Three artists—Nathalie Grimard, Erika Kierulf and Anne-Renée Hotte—have gathered at Galerie Trois Points in the exhibition La lenteur et autres soubresauts. Collectively, however, their work summons and reveals more points (or blips, as soubresauts implies) than there are snowflakes in Montreal. In fact, this show evokes a decidedly winter aesthetic: it is related to the particular way time measures itself out in the winter—slower, from a spot looking out the window at the snow maybe —, the whiteness of snow, and the sensation of winter on your skin: a kind of astringent clarity, little needles of white cold.

On textured white paper, Nathalie Grimard has made thoughtful and faultless configurations with meticulously-placed pricks of a needle and delicate knots and filaments of thread (the provenance of which is made evident in the “mother” piece, at the far wall). The materials and methods only reveal themselves when you look close; their simplicity vibrates against the precision and sheer number of the points and tiny knots. It reminded me of a paper-white version of stitches in skin, the precarious tension between thread and tissue.

Erika Kierulf’s work seems to be a meditation on the systems, clusters and constellations of particles found in nature: the scale expands, but the dimensions of their presentation format stays gallery-sized. Two video works on small screens are mounted on the wall opposite. The first has rested its eyes on the reactive busy-ness of a flock of birds in trees [(finally we are one) or Conscious Transference], and the second is a black-and-white still-frame video of a large caterpillar nest, luxuriously stretched and draped in a tree in the forest [The Nest (Chasing Instar)]. Between them is her Photogram series You have the sun, I have the moon (Satellite), which consists of eight square panels in two rows. It seems that masses of stars have created these pictures, the gradient of white and grey against black an indication of their depths and sheer number.

The passage of time is invoked on a few registers in Anne-Renée Hotte’s beautifully conceived video and photography work La lignée, installed in the adjoining room of the gallery. In a tableaux-vivant way it gives us a group of silent people in a sublime winter landscape, meditatively and simply playing out an imaginary family saga. The natural setting, which calls our attention to cycles of life and death, is particularly potent as a winter landscape; perhaps because in the winter we have to look closer for signs of their perennial movement. Within the family, too, we see the interrelation of growth and decline (“generation” implies creation of something from a like material as well as the distance between life stages). The work furnishes a kind of unaffected Romanticism; the non-narrative sequence and deft touch on symbolism leaves room for some dreaming. In fact the whole looped event felt like lucid dreaming, displacing temporality onto a wholly different plane.

The beautiful La lenteur et autres soubresauts continues until February 16, 2013.

Galerie Trois Points, space 520
Nathalie Grimard, Erika Kierulf and Anne-Renée Hotte
La lenteur et autres soubresauts
January 12 – February 16, 2013
www.galerietroispoints.qc.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ready for their close up: Fabrizio Perozzi’s “Blow Up” at Joyce Yahouda Gallery http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2012/11/ready-for-their-close-up-fabrizio-perozzis-blow-up-at-joyce-yahouda-gallery/ http://www.thebelgoreport.com/2012/11/ready-for-their-close-up-fabrizio-perozzis-blow-up-at-joyce-yahouda-gallery/#comments Wed, 28 Nov 2012 16:48:53 +0000 http://www.thebelgoreport.com/?p=3495 Fabrizio Perozzi at Galerie Joyce Yahouda

For the exhibition Blow Up, now on view at Joyce Yahouda Gallery, Italian-Canadian painter Fabrizio Perozzi has created a beautiful group of paintings of a single object, a bronze statuette of a man and woman in a kind of embrace. As befits the theme, the conceptual parallels between Antonioni’s 1966 film,1 from which the exhibition takes its title, and Perozzi’s paintings become more complex the deeper we look.

At the time when Antonioni’s film made its debut, Bosley Crowther, film critic of The New York Times, made a statement that also resonates with these paintings and our contemporary experience: “it is a fascinating picture, which has something real to say about the matter of personal involvement and emotional commitment in a jazzed-up, media-hooked-in world so cluttered with synthetic stimulations that natural feelings are overwhelmed”.2

In this case, the artist’s personal involvement is related to the relationships, exchanges and material transformations over time and space of this object and its image. In the first, the writer Yves Navarre, who had the bronze cast done from an original plaster entitled Débuts, created by the Canadian sculptress E. de Montigny-Giguère (1878-1969), gave it to Perozzi in the 1990s as a gift. In the present, having already owned the statuette for well over a decade, we can easily imagine the painter becoming ever more imbricated with the object and their image with each new ‘zoom,’ angle, and focus of each representation in paint. Moreover, and closing this circle of relations, we could imagine the sense of increased proximity Perozzi might feel between himself and the long-dead artist who created the object decades earlier.

As the title indicates, cinema also has a part to play. Moreover, the black-and-white paintings in the room off the main gallery space are presented as film stills, deriving from the artist’s interest in the composition and character of photographic and cinematic images. This made me wonder what it means to treat the representation of a static and silent object as a “still,” as though its original state was in movement and sound; nevertheless the temptation to ascribe a narrative persisted, which I found myself doing in a few cases. In one of the large paintings in the main gallery space, the bright copper colours seemed to be caused by a great fire outside the frame, reflected on the molded surfaces of the figures. In another work, the acid greens and chartreuse yellows suggested some kind of radioactive explosion, from which the male figure appeared to be shielding the woman. This is almost certainly taking the “blow up” theme a bit too literally, but it does at least corroborate the theme of foreboding, of violence and the traces thereof within or just outside the frame.

While several artistic media are invoked in this exhibition–sculpture, photography, cinema, and painting–in the end it seems that the strongest connection it bears with the Blow Up of nearly fifty years ago is that they are both about the act of looking, across and through time and media. Perozzi’s highly accomplished and sensitive work is a product of intense and sustained looking, and a means for us to do the same.

Blow Up will be silently revealing itself until January 12, 2013.

Galerie Joyce Yahouda, space 516
Fabrizio Perozzi
Blow Up
November 15 – January 12, 2012
www.joyceyahoudagallery.com

1Blow Up is a 1966 film by Antonioni in which a photographer believes he has unwittingly captured a murder taking place on film. As he looks closer into the image he is also drawn into the complex story of the man, woman and murder.

2 Quoted from the Wikipedia page dedicated to Antonioni’s film. http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowup.

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