The Belgo Report » Painting News and reviews of art exhibitions in the Belgo Building Fri, 15 Jan 2016 19:12:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Some Species Will Thrive Wed, 09 Sep 2015 00:44:14 +0000 The idea that half of Earth’s animals will become extinct over the next 100 years is, for many people, an abstract idea. It’s difficult to believe or understand the scale of what this will look like. No matter its seeming implausibility, it is nevertheless the prediction of many scientists. Perhaps it then makes sense that it’s from a creative mind that we find a depiction of this somewhat “unimaginable” future.

Artist Ripley Whiteside’s exhibit A Peaceable Kingdom – on display at Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain – is a series depicting the various species that will survive to cohabitate alongside humans in the future. The result is confronting. The works carry that intrinsic mix of melancholy and wry humour that is reserved for negative consequences that are seemingly inevitable.

The works are very much inspired by Montreal and its natural and unnatural environments. Each illustration is named after different quarters of the city like Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Côte-des-Neiges, and Pierrefonds. The selected animals can be found on the island of Montreal – either in the wild, in pet stores, on Kijiji, or at the Biodome. Whiteside arranged the creatures in a sort of constructed reality. Seeing them positioned against various somewhat bleak backgrounds, one has the impression these unlikely companions have been thrown together under unnecessary and arbitrary circumstances.

Whiteside said in his artist statement, “I am interested in what should or should not be considered natural, and in how absurd this line of questioning can become.”

“These works were born in the complicated corners of nature’s meanings, in the places where we attempt to insinuate ourselves within the natural or insist on our separateness from it; where we take what is natural and in so transform it into artifice; where we fear the natural and unnatural alike, and where we temper those fears with stories,” said Whiteside.

Visually, he uses a series of techniques to bring the animals onto a more confronting plane. In many cases, the animals are depicted life-size. Though more imposing than this is the manner in which each animal meets the viewer’s gaze. Historically, the direct or returned gaze has held great meaning in Western art. For a long time the direct gaze, particularly the direct gaze of women, was something artists avoided. It was thought to displease viewers, male viewers, who preferred subjects to be looking away, making their bodies more visually accessible. Eye contact is thought to bring a more confrontational aspect to the character in question. Berger in his now seminal book, “Ways of Seeing” (1972), discusses how Manet’s Olympia was the first example of the female nude defiantly returning the viewer’s gaze. In her description of Whiteside’s work, Concordia University’s Julia Skelley refers to the returned gaze as signifying consciousness, agency, interiority, and potentially indicative of a soul. And it’s true that in the absence of words, a direct gaze is used to establish a connection and can be thought to force a sense of accountability into the consciousness of the viewer.

It’s also worthy of note that in nature wild animals rarely make eye contact for very long, if at all. Someone viewing an animal may meet eyes with one for an instant, but there is rarely sustained connection. Eye contact is often the first point in the initiation of a relationship between two individuals, the beginning of establishing contact. This facet of Whiteside’s work acts to greatly humanize his animals.

The environmental aspect of the artist’s series was inspired by Stephen M. Meyer’s The End of the Wild, a book in which the author outlines Earth’s biodiversity crisis. Meyer cites a current extinction rate of 3,000 species per year, and notes that if this continues half of all species will be extinct in the next 100 years. He argues that the surviving animals will be the “weedy” ones (pests and parasites), those that can survive alongside the environmental degradation caused by humans. It’s a tragic and disturbing idea that due to the actions of one species, ours, only the “weeds” of the animal world will survive.

Another strong influence for A Peaceable Kingdom is the work of Edward Hicks (c. 1825-49) and his series of the same name. Hicks’ work was firstly an expression of his Quaker ideals. He painted 61 iterations on the same idea – all inspired by a bible passage, Isaiah 11:6-8. It’s a passage depicting all animals, predators and prey, living together in harmony. In a practical sense, Hicks conveys this uniformity, or peace, through the use of colours within a restricted tonal range. This is a technique also employed by Whiteside. The significant difference between the two artists is that Whiteside’s work doesn’t contain the religious aspect that was very much a focal point for Hicks. Whiteside paints from a more animalist perspective.

In the gallery, the works  – made from natural, homemade, and manufactured inks – are exhibited unframed, and pinned to the wall. There were minimal alterations made to the original state of the works. They appear almost as if they have just been removed from the artist’s studio. The strength of their message doesn’t need any embellishment.

A Peaceable Kingdom is exhibiting at Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain from July 18 – August 15, 2015.

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Holiday Season Lineup! Wed, 08 Dec 2010 18:25:38 +0000
Reaction at a distance : Collaborative drawings

It’s that time of year again! Here are some of the exhibitions/events happening in the Belgo this month.

Galerie Trois-Points:
Reaction at a Distance: Collaborative Drawings – Kristin Bjornerud and Erik Jerezano
November 20th – December 18th, 2010
Their collaborative project is essentially a correspondence through drawing. Separately, each of them begins a set of drawings to be exchanged through the mail and completed by the other. When they started the work a year ago, the guidelines they laid out for themselves were quite simple: there would be no rules about how they could alter the original piece and there would be no quitting whatever the results. This sharing back and forth without boundaries allowed them to work without inhibition.

Galerie Laroche/Joncas:
HOLI – Louise Masson
November 17th – December 24th
Holi is the name of an Idian color festival where participants throw different colored water and powder. Louise Masson’s portraits are based on photographs of people she took while traveling in India.

Galerie d’Art Visual Voice:
Homage to Jean-Paul Riopelle – Arnold Shives
December 2nd – 22nd, 2010
On one of his visits to Montreal, west coast artist Arnold Shives was asked to create an original black and white drypoint etching to accompany a poem written by John K. Grande and dedicated to artist Jean-Paul Riopelle. The project inspired Shives to expand this etching into a collection of artworks in homage to the late Quebec artist. Adopting various colors and textures to further mediate as well as explore the spirit of Riopelle’s work, Shives placed broken picture glass shards on his images and spray painted them in a process that evokes Jean-Paul Riopelle’s later works. Homage to Jean-Paul Riopelle employs a vigorous abstract language that Riopelle’s 1950s and early 1960’s painting embodies, as well as draws on the Snow Goose image that Riopelle so loved.

Galerie Les Territoires:
Call for video submissions – Monobandes
Deadline – February 4th, 2010
Monobandes will be presented from Wednesday, May 18th to Tuesday, June 7th, 2011.
The Jury’s selection criteria are originality, quality and the coherence of the artistic vision. There is no specific theme. The only limitation is to keep the length of each video to 10 minutes or less. Up to four videos per artist may be submitted.
For more info:

Galerie Push:
Out Thinking in Circles, In Circles Thinking Out – Group Exhibition
December 2nd, 2010 – January 15th, 2011
Galerie PUSH is delighted to host Kyle Beal as guest curator of our latest exhibition: Out Thinking in Circles, in Circles Thinking Out featuring multi-disciplinary works by Amélie Guérin, Robert Hengeveld, Kris Lindskoog, Shawna McLeod, David Prince and Lucy Pullen. The work assembled in Out Thinking in Circles, in Circles Thinking Out deals uniquely and specifically with the circle or circular as the dominant formal or conceptual element. Turning around traditional connotations such as time, unity or the universe, to loopy spiritual rings and meanings found at the periphery, the works in the exhibition orbit a space from the horizon to the belly button. A text by Kyle Beal accompanies the exhibition.


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Animal – Yvon Goulet at Maison Kasini Tue, 09 Nov 2010 15:26:44 +0000


Quebec-artist Yvon Goulet has built a reputation for himself as an “urban folklorist”. He finds his inspiration in Montreal’s Gay Village and illustrates the cultural events and festivities of the gay community. He presents daily reality and features the male body. In his works, he represents the symbols, the uniforms and fantasies which are specific to the gay culture. In so doing, he takes situations and imagery reserved for the few and makes them accessible to all. He paints on polyester panels used during election campaigns. He uses the text of the political posters on which he paints as integral parts of his work.

 In a departure from his typical subject, “Yvon Goulet: Animal” presents a menagerie of work where the subject is non-human: bears, pigs, cows, goats, wolves, bats, and mosquitos. He says, “I want to pay tribute to some animals that we eat or spend our life with everyday without looking at them anymore. A steer isn’t just some red meat wrapped in plastic on a plate of styrofoam…it is also a being who has feelings just like ours.”

(taken from Maison Kasini press release)

Maison Kasini
space 408
Yvon Goulet
November 2010

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Exact non-sens – Geneviève Saumier at Visual Voice Gallery Mon, 04 Oct 2010 14:21:58 +0000
Geneviève Saumier

Geneviève Saumier’s exhibition Exact non-sens is inspired mainly by social situations which communicate an atmosphere of nonsense while referencing notions of disorder, comedy, counterintuition, abnormality and irreverence. Her paintings often contain open narratives, be they autobiographical or from observations of human relations, contemporary art and instances of popular culture (game shows, Guiness Book of Records ect). They comment on the voluntary as well as involuntary creation of absurd social rituals.

Vernissage - Saturday, October 9th, 3-6pm

Visual Voice Art Gallery
space 421
Geneviève Saumier
Exact non-sens
October 7th – 16th , 2010

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Art, Commerce & Catastrophe – Px(c) at Maison Kasini Tue, 31 Aug 2010 17:19:47 +0000
Art, Commerce & Catastrophe

 Px(c)’s images pause at the nexus of art and commerce, where the two battle for the heart and mind of the viewer. As pop art, Px(c) references advertising that shapes our lives and view of the world, but when confronted with his art, his pop morphs into catastrophic violence: when things break open, beauty spills like blood from a wound.

Px(c) is the corporate alter-ego of Montreal artist Ben Depelteau. It first appeared in the 1999 painting You never know when you’ll need Px(c), as a car parts brand name. Px(c) has been known, over the years, to mimic advertising strategies to sell dysfunctional products and ideas to people. Art, Commerce & Catastrophe is an exhibition of Px (c)’s collages and includes paintings from his Adjacking Series.

( from maison kasini press release)

Maison Kasini
space 408
Art, Commerce & Catastrophe
August 28th to October 2nd, 2010

Reception – Saturday, September 18th, 3-5pm





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