Concordia fine arts graduates show the darkness of being human in a collective art show
MALAISE, an art show put on by six Concordia fine arts graduates, explores the raw and uneasy aspects of being human.
Last Thursday, artists Tessa Cameron, Katarzyna Chmielarz, Gabriela Gard Galiana, Ariana Sauder, Natalie Soble, and Liza Sokolovskaya—who go by the collective name The Group of Six in reference to the famed Canadian artists Group of Seven—welcomed a throng of admirers to Galerie 203 in Old Montreal, where the show will be mounted until Dec. 4.
“Everyone kind of pitched ideas of what they wanted to go for and a lot of it ended up being just morbid, uneasy themes,” said Gard Galiana of how they went about choosing their dark theme. “We chose the name ‘MALAISE’ to work around a few months ago, and we decided to do all our work according to that.”
The artists, who have all worked together in the past, kept close contact with each other throughout the process of creating the art for the show, explained Galiana, so as to make sure the feeling of malaise was cohesive throughout all the pieces. However, they each had a very unique way of interpreting it.
The collective effect of all these tableaus hung side-by-side is certainly disquieting.
Gard Galiana’s striking oil paintings represent individuals’ inner struggle through portraits that play with the concept of bondage; they are gagged, restrained, held back.
“My work was about fighting against yourself, hiding from your own secrets, your own insecurities, the fight within yourself,” said Gard Galiana. “People are tied up but it’s more to represent this uneasiness than anything sexual.”
Sauder’s portraits, painted in oil on canvas, have a blurry aesthetic that make the series look like snapshots of people caught in the rain, or seen through a foggy window. The feeling is highly eerie, and almost spectra. The same eeriness is felt in Sokolovskaya’s oil paintings, of out-of-focus close-ups of inanimate objects as one enters a home—“Buzzer #35” makes an everyday button seem ominous, and a lone lit lamp in a dark room in “Almost home” gives the sense that something sinister is lurking just behind the next wall.
Soble’s series of “Rorschach Girls”, painted in watercolour and ink on paper, immediately evokes an asylum or mental sanitarium. The twin sets of girls portrayed in mirror images seem to reference a chilling freak show-type atmosphere.
Death is present in animal form in Cameron’s work, with one painting of a taxidermied goat and another of a fur wig suspended ghost-like in mid air.
Chielarz also used ink to evoke a Japanese-style sketch series of “Les filles de la ville” shows figures hiding their faces while their naked bodies are made up of rows of crowded houses.
It took about four months to put everything together, and the girls did it all themselves from, obviously, creating the work, to scouting locations, to advertising and funding the show.
“We just started out, so the main goal for us is exposure,” said Gard Galiana. “Our location in the Old Port is great for us, you get a lot of tourists, a lot of people who are interested in buying art touring the galleries here.”
This is the second time the six of them have worked together, and they plan to do so again in the near future.
The pieces showcased are all on sale at Gallery 203, and range from $80 to $1300.
Gallery 203 is located at 227 Notre-Dame St. W. MALAISE is running until Dec. 4. For more information on the exhibition, visit galerie203.com.