The Belgo Report » Drawing News and reviews of art exhibitions in the Belgo Building Fri, 15 Jan 2016 19:12:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Surfaces at Galerie Lilian Rodriguez Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:13:17 +0000 June 3 – July 25, 2015


Roger Bellemare, Daniel Lahaise, Jennifer Lupien, José Luis Torres, Monica van Asperen

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ALPTRAUM (NIGHTMARE) at Visual Voice Gallery Tue, 23 Jun 2015 01:44:43 +0000 Exhibition: June 18 – 27, 2015
Vernissage: Thursday, June 18, 2015, 5pm – 7pm

Curator: Marcus Sendlinger
Co-Curators: Li Alin, Bettina Forget

Since 2010 Marcus Sendlinger organizes the wandering exhibition “Alptraum” in different countries all over the world. Starting out in Washington D.C., Montreal is now the 13th location of this world wide artist collaboration with the aim to explore the relationship between the individual, the national and the global collective subconscious surrounding nightmares.

“Like George Orwell’s Room 101, in his predictive tale, 1984, we all have our own version of what constitutes a nightmare, and for this reason, the project has been opened to a large number of artists whose many and varied personal nightmare versions, or visions, act to reflect this hugely variable human state of fears and phobias, pain and panic.” (Marcus Sendlinger) The nightmare motif has a longstanding tradition in visual arts with its intertwining of the fantastical, the horrifying and the elusive. The theme has long fascinated artists – from the hellish landscapes of Hieronymus Bosch, Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare (1781), Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (c. 1798), right through to the 20th Century, when nightmares became one of the central concerns of the surrealist movement.

But are nightmares individual to all? Like dreams, which have become synonymous with individual ambition? Or are nightmares perhaps expressions of the undesirable unconscious – that common denominator of a community? Do they indicate national archetypes? Or do they simply remain in the grips of the global fears of present age? These are the questions at the centre of the Alptraum exhibition, suggesting answers through the various repetitions of the same theme.

(text: Li Alin)
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Ed Pien at Pierre-François Ouellet Art Contemporain Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:45:03 +0000 Ed Pien: Strangers in a Strange Land

January 23 – February 28, 2015
Opening Friday January 23rd from 5pm to 7:30pm

Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain is proud to present new drawings by Ed Pien in parallel with the National Gallery of Canada’s presentation of his masterwork Ad Infinitum in the exhibition “Shine a Light”.

Relinquishing the comforts and habits of the known, his imagery and his processes reveal the risks and rewards of traversing the territory of the unknown. Rather than adopt an illustrative approach, Pien works spontaneously. No preconceived image is held; each line begets the next, necessitating a leap of faith on the part of the artist. The images generated through this organic process capture the immediacy of his linear gestures and the fluidity of his brushwork in a highly expressive visual field. Pien’s imagery conjures a fantastic and disturbing universe. His all-over ink and gouache compositions are brimming with mutant monsters, hybrid creatures and celestial beings — angelic and demonic — summoned from his subconscious. Blue giants, greenhaired witches, menacing night-walkers, shamanistic puppet-players, winged figures with bulging eyeballs, two-headed teddy bears and other similarly tragic Halloween-types inhabit these interior worlds. In each of the artist’s vignettes, an event instigated by one of the antagonists unfolds before the viewer, the activities often carrying on beyond the edges of the paper. Allusions to various forms of social transgression and power imbalances persist, accentuating the vulnerability of the body and the psyche. Playful, provocative, sensual and sinister, Pien’s drawings elicit and mirror the anxieties, fears and desires that issue from the depths of our being.

Text: Carolyn Bell Farrell

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Marc Dulude / Inbal Hoffman / zipertatou at Galerie Joyce Yahouda Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:38:46 +0000 January 29, 2015  – March 14, 2015
Vernissage Saturday January 31, 2015,  4 – 6 pm

Sculpture, drawing

À la lueur de Bébé Lune
Photography, hologram

In collaboration with Art Souterrain

Vidéo /Video

Carmit Blumensohn

Round table
Friday, February 27, 2015, 4pm

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Testosterone: Mythologies of Identities at Galerie Donald Browne Sat, 26 Jul 2014 18:38:15 +0000 The Belgo Building, usually humming with exhibitions and vernissages, falls quiet during the  summer months. The majority of the galleries run on a reduced schedule or close their doors until the fall season kicks in. Those who decide to stay open tend to present group exhibitions which last most of the summer. One of the most engaging of these group shows is Testostérone:  Mythologies Indentitaires at Galerie Donald Browne, curated by Charlotte Rousseau. Rousseau, who previously worked with Browne as a gallery assistant, selected works which explore the issue of male gender using the concept of testosterone as a common thread. The resulting show is an intelligent investigation of sexual identity that is both multi-faceted and coherent.

Ironically, the first work that I connected with in this exhibition about masculinity features a female artist. Raymonde April‘s photographic self-portrait shows the artist in profile against a back background. At the level of her eyes her wavy hair changes from cool grey to a warm auburn red. My first reaction was to suspect photo editing, but in fact April documented a very personal transition from one life stage to the next: menopause. April, now middle aged, decided to stop coloring her hair and allows her natural salt and pepper look to show. The descending watermark of changing hue also marks “the change;” effectively the artist turns her hair into a living work of art.
The onset of menopause also sees an increase of testosterone, making this a multi-layered transition from colour to black and white, from young to old, from woman to man.

Another favorite in this show are Olivier Gariépy‘s photos of nudes set in lush landscapes, particularly the work L’Echo de Narcisse. An androgynous figure stands in waist-deep water, awkwardly leaning forward, the long, curly blonde hair plunging beneath the surface. The body (female, upon closer inspection) and its reflection form a self-referential circle. Absorbed in a monologue with the self, Echo becomes Narcissus.

The show is completed by Jenna Meyers‘ vivid painting of the transgender Frankie, Jérome Ruby‘s enigmatic sketches of violent mythology, Louis Fortier‘s wax sculptures of damaged Greek gods, and Shari Hatt‘s large-format colour photograph of deer hunters, their faces censured by back bars, turning their trophy selfie into a crime scene.

It is worth braving the heat for this Belgo exhibit alone, though there are currently seven other galleries who are welcoming visitors. For a list of what’s open and closed, check here.

Galerie Donald Browne, space 528
Raymonde April, Louis Fortier, Olivier Gariépy, Shari Hatt, Jenna Meyers, Jérôme Ruby
curator: Charlotte Rousseau
Testosterone: Mythologies of Identities
July 12 – September 6, 2014

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Friday’s Favourite Four Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:49:00 +0000 The Belgo Report

For this week’s selection of four noteworthy artworks, I’ve chosen artists which explore the properties of pure light. Clockwise from top left:

Ève K. Tremblay at Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, Luc Courchesne at Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain, Julie Tremble at Galerie Joyce Yahouda, Jérôme Ruby at Galerie Donald Browne


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Headliners: En tête at Espace Robert Poulin Thu, 27 Mar 2014 17:46:47 +0000 Espace Robert Poulin - EnTete

Robert Poulin‘s latest show En tête features a wildly eclectic mix of artists. Established luminaries such as Alexandre Castonguay and Balint Zsako hang tête à tête next to undiscovered talents like BoBo Boutin and Claude Perreault.

Photography, drawing, painting, assemblage, collage – En tête is a riot of media and artistic styles. And yet, this exhibition has a surprisingly coherent feel to it. This is partly due to the strong central theme, as well as to Robert Poulin’s careful clustering of the artworks. The wide spectrum of aesthetic approaches in this collection of 60 portraits by 35 artists is this exhibition’s strength. It is an illustration of the ingenuity and inventiveness of artists. “Drawing a head” is one of the most elementary subjects in picture-making, and yet the outcomes are as unique as the person creating the portraits. Effectively, regardless of the person being portrayed, each artwork becomes a self-portrait of the artist.

Among my personal favorites in this offbeat portrait gallery is the work of Claude Perreault. His collage work perfectly mimics the quality of a 17th century portrait, the kind you would find in a stately home. The piece on display at Espace Robert Poulin depicts Dame Judy Dench in her role as Queen Elisabeth I. However, if you look closely you’ll notice that this is a meticulously constructed collage using images from gay porn magazines. The double-meaning of the term “queen” did not escape me. At once hilarious and borderline treasonous, Perreault’s work is wonderfully irreverent.

Equally painterly but more disturbing is the series of three small portraits by James Juron. His distorted portraits are reminiscent of Francis Bacon’s work, but softer and more demonic.
The brute force of Daniel Erban’s paintings are a resonant counterpoint to the delicate tension of Caroline Boileau’s mixed media pieces. And the cool, ethereal aura of Alexandre Castonguay’s C-print acts as a dominating focal point to Juron’s tortured souls.

This is one of my favoutire shows at Espace Robert Poulin, and to finish I’ll repeat Robert Poulin’s poetic text accompanying his show:

Histoire de têtes
J’avais cette idée qui me passait par la tête, sans me la casser,
ni souhaiter me la faire grosse ou forte.
J’ai souhaité un tête à tête, pas de nœud, ni d’enterrement, ni même de turc.
Trente-cinq artistes avaient la tête de l’emploi,
je la leur ai mise d’affiche et à prix, sans qu’ils ne la perdent.
Maintenant j’en ai par-dessus la tête, sur laquelle je suis tombé.
Où l’avais-je donc.

Espace Robert Poulin, space 411
Caroline Boileau, Alexandre Castonguay, Daniel Erban, Louis Fortier, Marc Garneau, Patrick Lundeen, Sean Montgomery, Balint Zsako, BoBo Boutin, Harry Corrigan, Luc Giard, Adeline Lamarre, Annick Langelier, Shawn Makniak, Nancy Ogilvie, Claude Perreault, and others
En tête
March 15 – April 5, 2014

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Pierre Julien’s new “semi-abstract-pop”: Peinture Extrême – Mise en plis at Galerie Nicolas Robert Sun, 18 Aug 2013 13:16:40 +0000 Pierre Julien at Galerie Nicolas Robert

On view at Galerie Nicolas Robert (GNR) since mid-July, Mise en plis is the most recent exhibition of works by Franco-Ontarian artist Pierre Julien. In the context of the second edition of AGAC’s Peinture Extrême, this tiny but exquisite show presents several large format paintings and a few drawings by a man who exhibited just earlier this summer at Montreal’s brand new Galerie Youn.

Pierre Julien’s paintings are vivid, pleasing, intriguing. Even though he was trained in Montreal – he holds a certificate from UQAM and a BFA from Concordia – I’ve actually rarely seen anything quite like this in today’s Montreal arts scene. Neither simply abstract, nor simply pop, the works in Mise en plis are hardly classifiable, and offer a free and playful alternative to what’s often being made those days among younger-generation artists.

A discussion with the kind curator helped me better understand Julien’s practice, and made clearer the connections between the works on view and the rationale behind the show. Comparing Julien’s previous series – République (2010), Le Périmètre (2011), and Cadastres (2012) – with the one on view at GNR, one quickly notices a very interesting transition in the artist’s formal language from a style reminiscent of hard-edge painting – he admits having been influenced by artists such as Peter Halley, Bridget Riley and Yves Gaucher – to a looser kind of abstraction, one which integrates pop-ish and graphic design accents.

And yet, when one attends to the few drawings behind the front desk, on the floor in the center of the gallery, or – if you get this chance too – in Julien’s personal portfolio, one realizes that this “freer” language has always been there, even while he was painting à la hard-edge. (And actually, the drawings could have constituted an exhibition by themselves. Julien often uses pages from fashion magazines and draws on/modifies them to produce surprising results.)

I highly recommend this show, if only to appreciate the gorgeous forms and colours that surround the gallery space. But I would actually suggest going with Julien’s own conception of abstraction in mind: as the construction of a fictive space, rather than as a dissolution of the figurative. Then, I think, the visitor will be able to appreciate Julien’s work at fair value, and especially not as “easy abstraction.”

Galerie Nicolas Robert, space 524
Pierre Julien
Peinture Extrême – Mise en plis
July 18 – August 31, 2013

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Électrons libres à la Galerie Joyce Yahouda Wed, 17 Jul 2013 17:32:15 +0000 Ana Rewakowicz, Day (Poland) (2010), Galerie Joyce Yahouda

J’essaie toujours d’écrire assez rapidement sur ce que je vais voir pour que ceux qui lisent ces articles et qui ont envie de faire de même puissent s’y adonner sans avoir à se presser, mais cette fois, j’ai envie de vous parler d’une exposition qui est en place depuis déjà plus d’un mois à la Galerie Joyce Yahouda. Elle prend fin très bientôt, alors si ça vous intéresse, allez-y maintenant! Vite! Parce que oui, c’est une très bonne exposition. En fait, c’est une exposition variée (puisque de groupe), mais ce qui en fait sa force, contrairement à celles qui n’ont pas trop de thème central ou qui ne se manifeste pas vivement, c’est cette volonté de faire converger les pratiques autour de la notion d’électron libre (ça s’appelle d’ailleurs Électrons libres), mais en gardant en tête ses deux horizons lexicaux. En fait, le commissaire Yan Romanesky s’est appliqué à réunir des œuvres connectées autant à l’incarnation scientifique de l’électron, à la figure de l’atome, qu’à son sens plus littéraire, plus ancré dans la marginalité et la liberté.

Un des artistes favoris du Belgo (je parle pour moi, mais je sais qu’il est assez apprécié de tous), Adrian Norvid, était donc tout indiqué pour faire partie de ce projet, ses œuvres naissant d’un désir de révolte et de transgression bon enfant et misant toujours juste. Ici, Norvid expose un très grand travail sur papier de 92 par 200 pouces, Finkola High (2011), où il met en scène des étudiants tous plus caricaturaux les uns que les autres : laids, boutonneux, nerds, musiciens amateurs, fumeurs excessifs, filles superficielles, sportifs musclés. Plus loin, Norvid récidive avec une série de 7 dessins évocateurs et toujours empreints d’humour, dont The Finger (2009), simple doigt d’honneur esquissé en peinture vinylique. Mais Norvid n’est pas le seul à jouer d’humour puisque zipertatou installe quant à lui deux tirages aux univers complètement déjantés et mettant en vedette des… arachides (Les activités du Club-Chorale cyber-pinottes et Cyber-pinottes au Parc Safari (2012)). Assez unique. La divine tragédie : 1977 (2008) de Céline B. La Terreur s’inscrit aussi dans ce registre, l’artiste ayant rendu un hommage métal à Maria Callas, figure marginale à l’époque, véritable électron libre. Le ton est parodique et les effets visuels amateurs ajoutent à cet esprit, comme ces apparitions de crânes et de roses aux couleurs flashy et à la résolution d’image déficiente. Le tableau de David Elliott, Music Box (2012), s’inspire quant à lui de ce genre de montage pas toujours réussi et en crée un de façon très convaincante à l’huile et à l’acrylique (et du coup, ça me rappelle que j’avais bien aimé cet artiste dans une précédente expo au Belgo). La forme concentrique se rapproche de l’atome et le changement de médium s’inscrit définitivement dans une démarche en marge. Bref, encore là, le choix était tout indiqué.

Un de mes projets favoris du lot et en apparence un des moins subversifs, celui d’Ana Rewakowicz, mise plutôt sur l’idée du nomadisme, de se libérer de nos attaches. En trois photos, l’artiste nous permet d’être en Finlande le matin, en Pologne dans le jour et en Finlande le soir, et il est facile de s’imaginer faire la route à vélo et camper sur ces lieux paradisiaques comme le suggèrent les clichés. Inspirant. Pour conclure (parce que je ne commenterai pas chaque œuvre dans le détail, même si c’est un peu ce que je suis en train de faire), disons que Massimo Guerrera s’attaque plutôt au sujet de la liberté de penser, liberté spirituelle, même, tandis que Stephen Schofield, dont on a plus souvent vu les essais sculpturaux, présente une série de dessins ramenant des éléments plus scientifiques, des formes concentriques, et cetera. Et ne serait-ce que pour la disposition de l’oeuvre d’Élise Provencher, nous faisant dos lors de l’arrivée en galerie et que l’on découvre par la suite sous toutes ses facettes (c’est le cas de le dire), celle-ci mérite aussi d’être mentionnée.

Le Belgo est particulièrement tranquille, ces temps-ci, plusieurs galeries ayant fermé leurs portes jusqu’à la fin de l’été, mais il reste de nombreuses choses à découvrir, dont Électrons libres à la Galerie Joyce Yahouda. Et comme c’est en plein dans le Quartier des Spectacles, une visite se combine très bien à un saut dans les festivals montréalais, non?

Galerie Joyce Yahouda, espace 516
David Elliott, Massimo Guerrera, Céline B. La Terreur, Michel Niquette, Adrian Norvid, Ana Rewakowicz, Alana Riley, Stephen Schofield, zipertatou, Élise Provencher
Électrons libres
15 juin au 27 juillet 2013

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The Hand That Rocks the Medium: Oil and Ink in a Beautiful Twist at Galerie Luz Tue, 09 Jul 2013 15:01:38 +0000 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









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