Home Arts Photo exhibit brings a new look on life

Photo exhibit brings a new look on life

by The Concordian February 14, 2001
Attention all amateur photographers! If you’ve ever doubted your skills, the Observations exposition at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery in Concordia’s J.W. McConnell Building should convince any shutterbug that even they can be considered an artist.
The collection of black and white photographs by Canadian artist Charles Gagnon seem simple in composure and content, almost basic. But they also testify the full potential of simple photography, and show that it is not the camera, but the eye behind it, that makes the art. This compilation of Gagnon’s photographic works over the past three decades serve as a flip-book of the fleeting, yet poignant, moments in all our lives.
There are no ubber-pictures in the exhibit that should’ve graced the cover of a newspaper, nor magic shots of personalities that forever galvanize what that they meant to us. Instead this exhibit shys away from animate subjects, and masters the portrayal of the inanimate and the everyday, showing how they too can have life.
A waving cactus in Arizona, a row of urinals in a men’s bathroom in Toronto, or a close up of an overpass on Cote-des-Nieges. If you weren’t told that the photographer was a world-renowned artist, you’d think this was a vernissage of beginner photographers’ projects, done well.
Gagnon’s works capitalize on the basic rules of photography: framing, leading lines, visual perspective, rule of thirds … sometimes the art simply depends on how the shot was cropped. Gagnon uses the architecture of the things he shoots as their own artistic composition. But it’s also the content of Gagnon’s photos, and his ability to see the beauty of a situation or instance, that is his art. Most of Gagnon’s sceneries should be familiar to people living in North-East America, but he portrays them in a vibrant, new light and angle.
Gagnon is also able to find the humour and contradictions in life. A pair of porto-potties framing the pristine scape of the Jasper glacier, a vacant and decrepit train station in Monterey California, a black and white shot of a boarded up “blue room” window, the back stair well of the National Art Gallery. Slightly dark and of low contrast, Gagnon’s works ooze nostalgia and emotion.
This free exhibit is part of a month-long show of Gagnon’s works around Montreal. Paintings, collages and more photos can be found at the Mus

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