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ARTCH: Art “squared”

by María Escalona September 15, 2020

Nineteen emerging artists presented their art at the third annual edition of ARTCH

Beneath the trees, between the concrete buildings and within the vibrant life of Montreal’s downtown, at Dorchester Square, lay art. And not the art that we may encounter every day like the sunset behind Saint-Joseph Oratory or the colourful Jacques Cartier Bridge, but rather art through the eyes of artists who explore it to its full potential and are present to guide us through it.

Displayed from Sept. 9 to 13, in Montreal’s core, the initiative ARTCH was home to 19 emerging artists. Selected via an open call, they have received training in entrepreneurship and the art market to expand their artistic practice as well as feature their talent to the grand public. They came from different backgrounds, work in many mediums and approach art from every possible angle.

The one thing they share is the determination and passion to see art living within our homes, parks, streets, walls, buildings, statues, cars, chairs, maps, and even bodies.

For passersby and the artists themselves, the presence of the body is a key element of ARTCH, whether it is by the spectator having an artistic encounter that stimulates their day, by the virtual spectator at home whose body is absent but present, or by the artists’ body which performs and displays their art for every curious, non-curious, connoisseur, non-connoisseur, friend or stranger that wants to enjoy, experience or even respectfully critique the work outside the sometimes-intimidating four white walls of a gallery.

Each artist has been given a space to showcase their work and they are all accessible to the public. Fifteen artists have been given a booth to showcase and sell their pieces, while four performers are given a designated spot on the grass or next to the sculpture in the centre for in situ artworks.

In this special edition, ARTCH has adapted and extended the physical exhibition to one that can also be experienced from our homes. Digital spaces like Instagram, Facebook and Zoom are now host to new and innovative art through live tours of the show, conferences, showrooms and more.

For Max Keene, one of the featured artists and a student at Concordia, this opportunity represents a more welcoming space where new conversations behind face masks, perspectives and opinions may rise from a different range of spectators that wouldn’t otherwise be possible in a gallery space or in a studio.

“We live in an interesting time,” said Keene. He went on to explain that art nowadays searches for more connection: with the audience, with the materials and even with other disciplines. The sculptural and photographic works presented in Kenne’s booth of humoristic and metaphorical mises-en-scène are one of many examples of the interdisciplinarity featured in this year’s edition of ARTCH.

Dexter Barker-Glenn, another featured artist and an undergraduate Concordia student, creates sculptural paintings using one of the most known supports for the human body, the chair, to reflect on the “human touches,” as he described. The artist finds that those traces we leave in our material possessions, our everyday objects, are reminiscent of the emotional, physical and mental connections we establish, consciously or not, and are a great source of inspiration. Barker-Glenn’s artistic practice goes beyond the disciplines of painting and sculpture to create a hybrid of the two that can transform any given space by playing with the placement of the pieces. For example, by placing art on the ceiling.

Nearby, Andrée-Anne Mercier continued the exploration of space and mediums with an ensemble of paintings, depictions of architectural landscapes of places in Japan, Hawaii and Montreal. Mercier considers the activity of walking and photographing very inspirational for her practice, as well as the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi that embraces and rejoices in three values: imperfection, incompletion and impermanence. She reflects on these values for her aesthetics, her ideas and even her installations, which are very playful and question the role of space, limits and materials.

Similarly, on the other side of Dorchester Square, Ahreum Lee’s works also reflect on spaces, documentation and limits. Lee recently immigrated to Canada from South Korea and is now completing an MFA at Concordia. In addition to carrying a lot of meaning around her life both here and there, the work Lee presented at ARTCH explored the theme of impermanence; the main piece of the module is a big altered map of the world that combines and rethinks a kid’s game with the geopolitical aspect of maps.

And these were just four artists in the complex equation of this year’s edition of  ARTCH. The disciplines were many, the spectators were multiplied (physically and virtually), the masks were a plus, the potential was exponential, the square was full of art and the art was “squared.”

To learn more about the artists and ARTCH, visit their website at http://artch.org/

 

Photos by Kit Mergaert.

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