In the all-too-important world of beauty, nothing stays still for long. Things change quickly and, as consumers, we must try to keep up with the ceaseless changes in the way we should desire to be seen. Curated by Hania Souleiman and co-presented by Concordia’s 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy, the real feat of Beauty In Obsession lies in its capacity to make the viewer really pay attention to each work. Housed in the Galerie Rye, with its massive windows allowing sunlight to sheath the wooden floors of the open space, viewers are surrounded by sculptures, photographs and paintings that beg for attention and can, in fact, retain it. The messages of the pieces in the exhibition range from exuding desperate cries of “love me, love me” to portraying a confident attitude of self-assurance in one’s appearance.
Julia Waks’s boxes, framed with used lipstick and fuchsia tulle, look like something fit to be found in a washed-up ballerina’s dressing room. Ripped pieces of lingerie cut across words marked in lipstick, bearing messages such as “This is you wanting to be loved.” The effect they create is entrancing, making the viewer want to take a closer look at what’s meddled in the decay, but at the same time, creating a sense of wariness about getting too close.
Portraits of fashionable men in various states of undress claim the wall by a piano, their faces exposed and their eyes bearing down on the viewer. The effect that artist Jeffrey Togerson creates is strong, making one feel that the men know the viewers better than the viewers know themselves. In poses that rival those of Greta Garbo and Rita Hayworth in their emulation of old Hollywood glamour, they emanate strong feelings of pride and confidence.
Also represented is the concept of repetition, in Laura Adelaide Hudspith’s sculpture of pristine, white chair legs lying on top of each other, entitled “Chair Leg Soft Tissue.” It speaks of trying to preserve perfection and beauty through the act of blending in. However, it is the broken chair leg, consciously placed on top of the others, that truly captures the viewer’s attention.
By exploring the theme of how the same obsessive habits and drive to achieve a certain ideal of beauty can open both the realms of self-destruction and unabated confidence, the exhibition ends up making viewers look into themselves. The works hide nothing and there is nothing left for the viewers to do but take an introspective look at their own ideals of beauty and ask themselves what it is and if the journey to obtain it is worth it.
Beauty in Obsession will be at Galerie Rye, 1331A Saint-Catherine street E, until March 19. The vernissage will be on March 15 from 18h00 to 21h00.
Walking through the Ctrllab gallery reminds one of what it’s like to visit someone’s house for the first time. Although the visitor gains hints of what the life of those who live there must be like, it’s hard to gain access to the full picture. The works featured in Home, Paralleled, curated by Dan Smeby, work together to get behind the faÃ§ade and bring out the real experience for all to see.
Laid out like a house, you can wander through the gallery and look at images of works shown on a TV atop the fridge. The journey ends at a side room past the bathroom that holds Pamela Lepage’s “Into the Dark” â€“ a painting that takes over the whole room in its glow-in-the-dark glory. You can also have a chat with artist-in-residence Katie Pretti. The gallery is serving as a home to Pretti, who is living there through March to create a painting-in-the-round.
A bed boasting rectangular pieces of foam and pillows sits under a sign that pleads viewers to not “interact with it in an overly boisterous manner.” That would be Jia Chen Cardy Lai’s “Comfort Food,” a multimedia installation that looks inviting and safe, emotions that many people link with thoughts of home.
At the other end of the spectrum is “Mass Elastic” by artists Maya Cardin, Stephanie Coleman, Kaleigh Macrae and Emma Campbell, which takes a far less literal approach to interpreting the concept of home. The installation features drawings of mountains and castles, with pieces of the installation literally detached from the wall, jumping out at the viewer, and with drawings of bears sprinkled here and there. Yet it is the small paper cut-out drawing of a bear, hanging from a piece of blue string by itself, removed from the chaos, which really captures one’s curiosity.
Home, Paralleled invites the viewer over for a visit that will leave them with a feeling of having gained a bigger insight into someone’s home life than stilted first-meeting conversations with relatives and brief glances at decades-old portraits. The proverbial family mantles of the artists are stripped bare for all too see, leaving the viewer with their own interpretation of a simple but known four-letter word we’re all familiar with.
Home, Paralleled runs at Ctrllab, 3634 Saint-Laurent Blvd. until March 19. For more information on these and other exhibits, check out artmattersfestival.com.