Arts and Culture Exhibit

Wandering eyes behind the mask

Shary Boyle is a Toronto-based artist whose imaginative approach cultivates her unique world-building abilities. The fantasy worlds that Boyle fashions through painting and sculpture are unsettling and sophisticated, surreal and theatrical. Boyle provokes the curious minds of the visitors through her multimedia and multi-dimensional works. She invites us all to discover our inner imaginative self. Her exhibition Vesselling is now on view at the Patel Brown Gallery.

Curator and writer Anaïs Castro’s accompanying exhibition text explains that Vesselling, at its core, refers to “the act of holding space for a vulnerable community, a safe and contained environment to share and reflect on complex or difficult realities.” Boyle conjures this notion through her unique craftsmanship, complexity and world-making to guide the audience’s experience. The works within the exhibition creates a space that invites the viewers to take a journey to a mystical reality, in which the materiality, their nature and their relation to reality is being challenged.  

Upon entering the gallery space, a long podium displays several sculptures that are shaped and entangled in twisted forms. The podium provides the viewers with the ability to walk around the sculptures to explore each angle of their disproportionate bodies. 

A two-coloured sculpture is placed in the center of the podium, displaying two pot-shaped bodies entwined in a close and intimate embrace. The larger, dark figure spreads its legs, inviting the smaller, white figure to fill the space between them. The figures constitute an abstract, continuous shape—their relationship is dynamic and romantic. 

“Dysfunctional ceramic vessels serve as metaphors for human connection and receptacles for human values—contained forms that embody the complex processes of personal, and societal, relationships,” Castro explained. 

The series of paintings that hang around the periphery of the gallery space is entitled Grafters. The collection seems to represent As a collective, it seems as if all the paintings are frozen moments of a mystical puppet show or a ritualistic ceremony that can be compared to  theater plays, television shows or everyday chores that we witness in our surroundings. Traditional painting canvases display figures with ceramic masks covering their faces. Some paintings incorporate everyday objects such as ribbon, hair, jewelry, buttons and so forth.

These paintings play with reality and imagination, bringing up curious, mystical,  dreamy and metamorphic narrative within different visual frames. The ceramic masks, on one hand, function to prevent the viewers from seeing who is underneath. This may prompt the viewers to curiously look closer to see the set of eyes behind the mask. On the other hand, the masks give the paintings a sense of liveliness as if they are emerging out of the painting to confront the viewers with their tangible presence in our world. In Castro’s words, paintings in Grafters series “function within the logic of a double-performance.”  

In one of the paintings, titled The florist, Boyle depicts a mysterious space with the main figure in the center holding two flowers—Anthurium and pink Gladiolus. Even though the ceramic mask covering the florist’s face emphasizes the ambiguity of the work, the irises penetrate through the mask and follow you, establishing the figure’s presence in the moment. The flowers, along with the smooth painting technique and the decoration of the upper part of the painting, offers a soft and feminine setting. In contrast to the softness of the work, there is a hidden violence that is projected via the appearance of a knife.

Vesselling will be on view at Patel Brown from Feb. 29 to April 20.

Arts and Culture Exhibit

Step back in time: Immersive VR experience recreates rave culture at Centre PHI

Experience the thrill, music, and underground atmosphere of 1980s illegal raves within the confines of virtual reality.

How did it feel to attend a rave with thousands of other people in the United Kingdom during the 1980s? Such a unique experience is unparalleled, but artist Darren Emerson has recreated its essence in his interactive VR experience In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats, which is currently open to the public at Centre PHI. 

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats is both a documentary and an immersive experience. The player embarks on an adventure that brings them back to 1989, when illegal raves were regularly organized throughout the country in uncanny locations, such as abandoned warehouses.  About 40 minutes long, the VR experience is both informative and entertaining. The player is provided a headset, headphones, and a sort of backpack that vibrates to the rhythm of the soundtrack.

The playroom is located on the second floor of the museum. Adorned with blacklights, the room is divided into six sections where players can move around during their experience. Once the headset and headphones are on, though, it is impossible to tell that there are other people in the room. It is an individual adventure and the VR setup makes the player feel cut off from reality completely. 

The graphics are breathtaking. At the beginning, the player sits in the car with ravers, watching the road roll by in the darkness of the night. Then, the player hangs out with these same ravers in a bedroom with walls covered in posters of 80s bands before getting sucked into the radio and surrounded by colors, vibrations and music. After visiting the police precinct and learning about the investigations that illegal raves led to at the time, the player enters a warehouse and experiences a rave in the fashion of 1989. Throughout these different scenes are scattered testimonials from important actors of the rave scene in the 80s. 
Interested? This VR experience is featured at Centre PHI from Feb. 7 to April 28. Centre PHI is known for the diversity and uniqueness of its exhibitions and displays. It showcases art pieces from underground artists and allows the public to experiment with all types of mediums and technology. Colored: The Unknown Life of Claudette Colvin is another VR experience currently featured that will be open to the public until April 28.

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

Datura at Espace Maurice brings the Rust Belt to Montréal

The show features works by Alex Patrick Dyck, Cléo Sjölander, Ariane Gagné (éli del), Tom  Roeschlein, Julien Parant-Marquis, Justin Apperley, Jason Van Hoose, Dylan Weaver and Paul Jackson Burgess.

The morning after my visit to Datura, the latest offering from Espace Maurice, I was confronted with a seemingly endless stream of people walking past me in their Sunday best: puffy jackets, Arcteryx tuques, and shiny sunglasses. They all appeared to be going to brunch, dressed up in their finest to go spend more money; a sign that the capitalist machine is happily turning. 

I noticed it because it couldn’t have been more different than what I was confronted with at Datura the day before. The group show, curated by the gallery’s founder Marie Sègoléne C. Brault, a Concordia graduate, features a wide variety of artists and practices whose works are entangled with the darker side of capitalism. 

All the works in the show were made in Youngstown, Ohio, many of them as part of a 10-day residency that took place during last fall. Through their subject matter and materiality, the artworks reflect the long lasting effects felt by a city that suffered greatly from the closing of factories during the 1970s. A number of the pieces were made by reusing materials like car window frames or rusted nails. 

Alex Patrick Dyck, thorn apple (trumpet flower), 2023, Found objects, antique air horns & trunk, mother of pearl, transparency film, tattoo ink. In Datura at Espace Maurice. Photo by Manouska Larouche.

The residency came to be—thanks to Brault who, upon viewing the documentary Greyland (dir. Alexandra Sicotte-Levesque), was taken with the story of Youngstown and got in touch with one of the local residents featured in the film, Rocco Sait. This marked the start of a collaboration that resulted in the Ohio residency in which artists from New York, Montreal, the Yukon, and Youngstown gathered to create the art currently on display at Espace Maurice. The show represents a small fraction of what was produced during the residency, but it is accompanied by a catalogue that documents the works as they were installed in Youngstown at a warehouse owned by Sait. 

This show considers the lived experiences of those born and raised in the shadows of shuttered steel factories, and poses the question: What about those who stay? The answer is found in the form of sculptural works that use wood, ceramic, nails, candlesticks, wrought iron, and plastic tarps used in construction, as well as in the form of paintings that reflect on the violence bred by economic inertia.

In some ways, the show’s curation mimics the imagery of places like Youngstown or Detroit, which are all too often defined by the distant memory of economic prosperity—images of abandoned mansions in disarray dominate the visual landscape in these places. This show engages with this visual mode, but with an added level of care and intention. 

On the floor beneath a painting on one wall is a selection of carefully lined up tchotchkes, like a silver letter opener and a small heart-shaped piece of resin with nails sticking out of the top. A similar object sits atop one of the light switches along another wall. The show rewards a desire to look in unexpected places—the floor, the light switch, and the window. 

The show’s namesake flower, datura, also known as moonshade or devil’s weed, is a member of the nightshade family. It is a poisonous flower, with psychoactive effects that can induce delirium. Indeed, there is a sense of delirium in the show. One can easily get lost within the works on display, and I would encourage everyone to do so. 

Datura will be on view at Espace Maurice until Feb. 16.

Dylan Weaver, Horse on The Runway, 2022, acrylic on canvas. In Datura at Espace Maurice. Photo by Manouska Larouche.
Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

Trevor Baird’s Sunkissed at Pangée

Embracing age-old methods to create new work that feels ancient.

Trevor Baird is a Montréal-based artist with a BFA in ceramics from Concordia University whose works have been exhibited domestically and internationally. His current exhibition Sunkissed is now on view at Pangée, a gallery located inside a historic 100-year-old building, formerly known as the Czech Consulate. The gallery directly overlooks Mont-Royal park, making it a favoured destination for the art community of Montréal. 

Upon entering the building, a fluorescent sign bathes the entrance in warm, red light and directs visitors upstairs into the gallery space. The bright and sunlit space smells of fresh oil paint, initially gravitating the visitors toward Delphine Hennelly’s whimsical exhibition, Behind the Scenes.

In the adjacent room, Trever Baird’s exhibition features a long podium in the centre of space which displays a collection of wood-fired stoneware works. This new body of work marks a significant departure from his previous method of working, for Baird is embracing a new approach to ceramics. “It’s been a while since I’ve shown and have completely rethought my entire practice since Covid,” Baird wrote in a recent post on Instagram, “moving away from a more technical practice to an intuitive one took a long time to understand, but I’m so much more satisfied with this work than I have been in the past.”

Trevor Baird’s Arca Mundi, 2023, Ash Glazed Stoneware. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

The collection overall has the distinct, rustic quality of archeological discoveries, leading the viewer to question whether they are looking at contemporary artworks or antiquities. In the poignant words from artist Rebecca Storm’s accompanying exhibition text, “Tarnished, at times seeming to have surrendered to erosion, or to the slow creep of lichen, [the ceramics of Trevor Baird] bear ciphers of antiquity, teasing the viewer into speculation. Have I been newly created, they ask, or have I been found?”

For example, the repeated motif of the ribcage (Arca Mundi, 2023) may remind the viewer of fossilized human remains, preserved by the earth. “Ribs are the artist’s interpretation of the alchemical concept of the vessel as the symbol for the soul,” Storm wrote. The rib cage both protects and metaphorically imprisons the heart—the presumed locus of the human soul. Baird’s “remains” are imbued with a sense of the spirit of the body they perhaps once belonged to. 

Sunkissed will be on view at Pangée from Jan. 20 to March 2.

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit Student Life

Artist spotlight: Princex Naveed

Artist, poet, and “critical pedagogue”, Princex Naveed’s recent showcase “Jarring Lots” exhibited four multimedia installations that constituted the creation component of their MA thesis in Concordia’s INDI program.

Between Jan. 17 and Jan. 19, “Jarring Lots” was exhibited in Concordia’s MFA basement gallery in the Visual Arts building. Upon entering the gallery space during the opening night, visitors were met with a warm welcome with wine and refreshments from the artist, whose clear intention was to create a comfortable and open environment. Galleries are notoriously stuffy, quiet, and riddled with unspoken rules for proper behaviour, however, it was integral to Princex Naveed’s showcase that care was taken to resist these norms. 

View of the gallery, Princex Naveed’s “Jarring Lots,” Concordia MFA sub gallery. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

The gallery was filled with rich, ambient sound—an untitled, immersive soundscape work by Ghent-based filmmaker and poet, Helle Monne Huisman. The white-noise quality of the sound was a welcome rupture in the more familiar radio-silence of an exhibition space.

The central work in the gallery was their mixed-media installation titled “Tea, Sis!” A rectangular table was set up in the middle of the space, and was filled with red Solo cups—each with an individual tea bag. A small pile of didactic handouts were laid on the table for visitors, on which the artist had printed a statement about the work and the scholarly research that informed it, notably, the work of French writer and poet named Édouard Glissant. 

Detail of Princex Naveed’s “Tea, Sis!” 2024, mixed-media installation. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

Tea, Sis! intends to counteract the sterility of the white cube by offering you a hospitable space, creating the potentiality for care_ful encounters between visitors and me,” the handout read. “The white cube” is a direct reference to Brian O’Doherty’s highly influential essay, “Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space, which offers criticism of the aesthetic of the gallery space as a pristine white void, and how this space impacts the viewing and value of art. 

Lining the gallery walls were 9 printed photographs which documented a performance inspired by Canadian performance artist Sin Wai Kin. According to Princex Naveed, the performance “calls into question mainstream definitions of nationality and culture as well as their underlying gender norms.” Born to a Polish mother and an Irani father in northern Germany, and now based in Canada, Princex Naveed’s own personal history traverses numerous nations and identities, and this performance celebrates that state of flux. 

Lastly, a cozy video installation titled “but i’d rather be a pickle than a cyborg-goddess” was situated in the corner of the gallery. The short video offered an intimate glimpse into the artist’s performative transformation into a dill pickle. 

Princex Naveed, “but i’d rather be a pickle than a cyborg-goddess,” Concordia MFA sub gallery. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

“It was both mundane and highly meaningful to me, as it has emerged convergently in multiple ecologies I call home (Turtle Island, Eastern Europe, the Middle East),” Naveed said.

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

Cruel to be Kind/ Les plus beaux cauchemars: A reflection on women’s condition

Montreal artists use colours and various mediums to create a dream-like exhibition.

Jeanie Riddle and Delphine Hennelly, two Montreal-based painters, have taken over the Outremont Art Gallery from Nov. 8 until Jan. 7. The room hosting the artists’ exhibition, which is located inside the neighbourhood’s library, has undergone a complete transformation in order to showcase both women’s work. 

Jeanie Riddle completed her MFA in painting from Concordia in 2005. Her portfolio includes acrylic paintings on canvas and on paper, as well as sculptures made of various fabrics. Delphine Hennelly, for her part,  tends to make artwork which “addresses the human condition and prescribed gender roles,” according to her biography on the website of the Huxley-Parlour Gallery in London where her work was shown in February 2023. 

The gallery walls are covered in Riddle’s and Hennelly’s vivid artwork, and on top of the paint are hung portraits and pieces of their collection. The exhibition is called Cruel to be Kind or Les plus beaux cauchemars, which translates to “the most beautiful nightmares.”  This title feels very appropriate—upon entering the room, an aura of alternate reality becomes overwhelming, as if pacing inside a colourful dream. 

Cruel to be Kind exhibition at Outremont Art Gallery. Photo by Maya Ruel / The Concordian.

All in tones of pastel, the artwork presented at the gallery varies greatly in style from one piece to another. Riddle and Hennelly’s artistic styles and chosen mediums are very different. 

Hennelly finds much inspiration in art history and tapestries. She mostly creates vivid portraits which, even though she allows herself much creative freedom and steers away from realism, are still somewhat figurative. Women figures (though some have green skin) and outlines of human figures are easily distinguishable in her art. . 

Riddle’s artwork, in contrast, is much more abstract. She paints colorful shapes and uses fabric, such as scrunched up latex, to create unique pieces which could be associated with clouds. There are also a few pieces displayed in the middle of the room which resemble bags and have been dyed in tones of pastel. 

The encounter between both styles could have been difficult to digest, but somehow the artists’ work complete one another and are entangled brilliantly.

Cruel to be Kind is an exhibition with strong feminist undertones. All the human figures painted on the walls are women, and they are either smiling, holding the hand of a child, wearing hats and dresses, or are completely naked. 

Painting by Delphine Hennelly. Photo by Maya Ruel / The Concordian.

A painting hung on one of the walls has been created with only a few strokes of blue acrylic paint accompanied by a yellow line which has a shape of breasts. Another painting shows a woman, all dressed-up, holding a handkerchief to her face—alluding to the hardships of living in a patriarchal society. The antitheses in the title, “cruel” and “kind,” or in French, “beautiful” and “nightmare,”  correlate with the way women are treated and depicted in society—“both desired and despised,”  as per the artists. The colours used in the artwork are light and vibrant and give a pure feeling of femininity:  lots of warm pink, purple, light blue, and yellow.

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit Student Life

Matrilineal Memory: Celebrating Métis heritage through generations of women

Juliet Mackie paints motherly love and female power in her latest artwork.

Shé:kon Gallery is currently hosting Matrilineal Memory, an exhibition showcasing the work of Juliet Mackie. She is a visual artist from Métis origins, currently residing in Montreal. Through her beadings and paintings, she embraces her heritage and pays tribute to the women of her lineage. 

Mackie is a PhD candidate in the iIndividualized iProgram at Concordia University as well as a holder of a BFA in painting and drawing. The exhibition’s curator, Alexandra Nordstrom, is a PhD student in the inter-university doctoral program in art history at Concordia University. Nordstrom and Mackie have previously collaborated on another exhibition, Braiding our Stories, at VAV Gallery.

Juliet Mackie, Kineweskwêw, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

Matrilineal Memory is hosted at Shé:kon Gallery, which belongs to the Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA). BACA is a non-profit organization launched in 2012 which promotes Indigenous artists’ artwork. The Gallery was opened in 2021 and is in function all year-round, and is described as a “space dedicated to emerging Indigenous artists and curators from Quebec.”

Juliet Mackie, Jaymie, 2023. Beadwork on felt. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

Starting with her great-great-great-grandmother and ending with her mother, Mackie has recounted the lives of her female ancestors. The women in the portrait collection share unequivocal family resemblances, such as dark hair and large brown eyes, as well as beadings of floral figures, which both represent Mackie’s connection to nature and embody femininity.

Juliet Mackie, Greta, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

The portraits and beadings are vividly colourful. In the paintings, some women are pictured in traditional Indigenous clothing, whereas others are painted wearing  dresses and pearls. There is a family portrait called Trapline Girls where a woman wearing furs is seen smiling accompanied by three children, presumably girls, which might be the representation of tradition being passed down from generation to generation. 

Juliet Mackie, Trapline Girls, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

Another painting, Granny Oak, shows an elderly woman holding a young girl in her arms, surrounded by pink flowers. This portrait particularly exudes maternal love and feminine energy. The background of some paintings includes flowers, trees and eagles—yet another reminder of the artist’s love of nature as well as the Métis’ connection to fauna and flora. 

Juliet Mackie, Granny Oak, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

The artist’s great-grandmother, Evelyn Oak, is a central figure of the display. She was a Métis woman from the community of Fort Chipewyan, in Alberta. She, as well as her daughter Greta, inspired the artist through their journey of self-acceptance, resilience and courage as Indigenous women during the 20th century. As she embraces her family history, Mackie also embraces her own identity, reconnects with her origins, and celebrates tradition. Unapologetically feminist, Matrilineal Memory is an intimate encounter between the artist and the women who shaped her way of being.  

Juliet Mackie, Evelyn of the North, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

Matrilineal Memory will be on view until Dec. 22.

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

Vendu-Sold: Concordia highlights

Bilingual contemporary art magazine ESSE’s 14th annual benefit auction, Vendu-Sold, was recently on view at Projet Casa from Nov. 9 through Nov. 19. The opening event was attended by ESSE’s director, Concordia alumnus Sylvette Babin, along with many other ESSE administrators and several of the artists. Here is a list of all the works produced by Concordia alumni that were included in the auction—be sure to check them out and support their work!

ESSE’s director, Concordia alumnus Sylvette Babin, speaking at Projet Casa. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

Having earned her BFA in photography at Concordia, Clara Lacasse balances the industrial with the ethereal in her bright and airy work, Trame, 2020.

Clara Lacasse’s piece Trame, 2020 at Projet Casa. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

Trevor Baird, who earned his BFA in ceramics at Concordia, is showing his work The Gates of Ishtar, 2021. This curious work blends the new and the old, incorporating graphic design elements into a ceramic facade. 

Lorna Bauer is currently Concordia’s studio arts program’s artist in residence. Her hand-blown glass work Sítio Bottle (Millefiori) #2, 2021, is one of a series of over fifty individual pieces that she began in 2018.

Ari Bayuaji studied fine arts at Concordia after moving to Canada from Indonesia in 2005. His woven plastic work The Rock Islands, 2022, speaks to the relationship between community and the environment. 

Concordia’s MFA graduate program director in studio arts Kelly Jazvac’s work Time Scale (Granite #1), 2022, makes use of manufactured materials in order to comment on the longevity of humanity’s environmental footprint.     

Jeanette Johns holds an MFA in print media from Concordia. Her work Plain Hunt on Four: 1234, 2023, combines the hand-made with the digital to create vibrating imagery that challenges our perception of space.

Élise Lafontaine earned her BFA from Concordia in 2015 before going on to complete her master’s at UQÁM. Her synesthetic work Rib of Sound, 2022, seeks to mystically translate sound itself into a visible gesture. 

Jean-Michel Leclerc holds an MFA in fine arts from Concordia. His untitled work is part of a series that examines the crisis of the 1930s—rearticulating found imagery through analog photographic processes and digital fragmentation. 

Staff writer Shaghayegh Naderolasli observing Jean-Michel Leclerc’s work at Projet Casa. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

Former Concordia professor François Morelli’s rosy and surreal work Les aurevoirs, 2022, offers an illustrative and dynamic scene of sensual figures entangled in space.

Bea Parsons is a full-time professor at Concordia who previously studied fine arts at the university. Her monotype print Sun Dog, 2023, has a soothing, painterly quality that demonstrates how the possibilities of printmaking techniques can illustrate incredible natural phenomenons.

Alexandre Pépin earned his BFA in studio arts from Concordia in 2018 before recently receiving his MFA from the University of Texas in Austin. In Fish, 2021, employs a textured blend of painting and drawing techniques with a pastel colour palette to render the image of a fish out of water. 

Multidisciplinary artist Fatine-Violette Sabiri holds a BFA in studio arts from Concordia. Her work Majdouline, 2019, draws its visual language from her Moroccan heritage. 

Eve Tagny earned a BFA in film production from Concordia in 2011. Her xerox impression Poppies field print, 2022, is a dark and mysterious image of a poppy field that captures a moment which speaks to humanity’s desire to capture nature.

Lan “Florence” Yee’s bright and self-aware oil painting Cantonese Still Life, 2018, is a commentary on the dominance of European traditions within the art historical canon as defined by “Western” academia. Yee earned her BFA from Concordia and her MFA from OCAD University.

Visit ESSE’s website here to see all of these artworks and more!

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

Strange memory

From the mechanical to the organic, Concordia MFA students Émilie Allard and Kuh Del Rosario’s curious sculptural works draw uncanny connections between the familiar and the strange.

Émilie Allard’s cold and metallic readymades—a manufactured object repurposed as a work of art, think Marcel Duchamp—in Point of Irony, Point of Organ stand in stark contrast to Kuh Del Rosario’s viscerally organic sculptures in Summoning Black Beach. However, the adjacent exhibits, currently occupying the two distinct gallery spaces in the Mile End’s Centre Clark, create a curious dialogue when approached as a pair. 

View of the gallery. Émilie Allard, Point of Irony, Point of Organ, Centre Clark. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

Both galleries are sparsely peppered with the artists’ works that stand out against the cold white walls and concrete floors. Any didactics or titles to accompany the works on display have been excluded from the installation space, which encourages the viewer to approach the body of work as a cohesive whole, rather than a collection of individual pieces. 

View of the gallery. Kuh del Rosario, Summoning Black Beach, Centre Clark. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

Each artist employs a strikingly unique visual language to engage with the familiarly unfamiliar. In other words, whether it is a set of reconfigured aluminium chair legs turned upside down and strung up with bells (Allard, “Le rêve et l’argent”) or an oozing pool of grimy water and salty, porous rocks (Del Rosario, “invocation na babayin itim”), both artists use recognizable materials to create unrecognisable, abstracted forms that call into question our ability to materialise that which only exists in our minds.  

Installed high-up on the gallery wall of Allard’s exhibit, something between a photograph and a sculpture resembles a fleshy pair of ears, but they are abstracted beyond immediate recognition—it takes a moment for the viewer to grasp what they are looking at. The manipulated organs appear to be poised to listen to the hypothetical music of the stone xylophone below them, yet the room remains positively silent. 

Émilie Allard, “Morse,” 2023, in Point of Irony, Point of Organ, Centre Clark. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

The works seem to speak to the fallibility of memory—try remembering what a pair of ears looks like if you aren’t looking at one, or try remembering what a xylophone sounds like. What do you see in your mind’s eye? What do you hear? Is it, perhaps, an imperfect, abstracted version of the real thing? Allard’s work seems to seek out what is revealed to us when our minds attempt to piece together what something looks, feels or sounds like when we cannot immediately access it.

Similarly, Del Rosario’s sculptures harken back to the artist’s abstracted memories of her homeland of Batan in the Philippines. In a statement that accompanies the exhibit, Marissa Largo asks: “How does one return to a place that no longer exists?” This recalls the artist’s memory of a journey taken with her late father to a beach that she has not been able to locate since his passing. “Summoning Black Beach proposes an alternative way to return and to reconnect with that which has been lost,” Largo wrote.

Both Point of Irony, Point of Organ and Summoning Black Beach will be on view at Centre Clark through Nov. 25. A closing reception will be held on Nov. 21 at 6 pm, which will feature readings from the artists. 

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

The inimitable artwork of Marisol

From her uncanny, colorful drawings to her abstract wooden sculptures, Marisol’s retrospective at the MMFA features the full breadth of the artist’s prolific career.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is currently hosting a retrospective exhibition on the life and work of artist Marisol Escobar, commonly known as Marisol. She was an important figure of the Pop Art movement in the 1960s. She was also a close friend and collaborator of Andy Warhol. 

Her nomadic lifestyle might explain why her work is so diversified. Born in Paris to Venezuelan parents, Marisol lived in New York for most of her life and traveled to various corners of the world—each new destination giving her art a new breath. She experimented with all types of mediums; her portfolio includes drawings, paintings, photography, and film, but her sculptures are her most distinguishable creations.  

John D. Schiff (1907-1976), Marisol with Dinner Date, 1963. Marisol Papers, Buffalo AKG Art Museum. © John D. Schiff, courtesy of the Leo Baeck Institute, New York

As a politically engaged feminist, Marisol’s art strongly reflected her convictions. In a similar manner as Frida Kahlo, Marisol often integrated her own face and body parts into her abstract wooden sculptures. Some recurrent themes in Marisol’s artwork are family, maternity, women’s place in society, political conflicts and even gender nonconformity, which was a cutting-edge topic for an artist born in 1930. 

Marisol (1930-2016), Thé pour trois, 1960. Buffalo AKG Art Museum, bequest of Marisol, 2016, 2018:16a-d. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo Brenda Bieger, Buffalo AKG Art Museum

The retrospective is separated into six galleries, each representing a phase in Marisol’s chronological artistic development. The entrance gallery displays her earlier work starting in the 1950s: mostly colorful drawings and paintings, some bronze sculptures and some small wooden sculptures. This period was during her twenties, when she was making connections with other young New York artists and experimenting with drugs, which is evident in the psychedelic appearance of many of the pieces she created at that time. 

View of the exhibition Marisol: A Retrospective. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo MMFA, Denis Farley.
Marisol (1930-2016), Face Behind a Mask, 1961. Abrams Family Collection. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo Bill Jacobson Studio

Moving into the second gallery, the viewers encounter more drawings and paintings that line the periphery of the space which is otherwise filled with popular sculptures Marisol made in the 1960s. Most are made of wood and stand taller than the average human. The collection includes two gigantic babies with wooden bodies and pencil-drawn faces, a boy sitting on a chair wearing Andy Warhol’s shoes, two naked cyclists and much more.

View of the exhibition Marisol: A Retrospective. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo MMFA, Denis Farley
Marisol (1930-2016), Baby Girl, 1963. Buffalo AKG Art Museum, gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1964, K1964:8. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo Brenda Bieger, Buffalo AKG Art Museum

The third gallery hosts some of Marisol’s most ambitious works, such as her piece The Party, which is made up of 15 life-size figures all dressed in gowns, a reflection of New York’s social scene in the mid-twentieth century. The works in this gallery also largely reflect Marisol’s concerns with the multifaceted nature of identity, as can be recognized in the many faces of her self-portraits.

View of the exhibition Marisol: A Retrospective. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo MMFA, Denis Farley
Marisol (1930-2016), The Party, 1965-1966. Toledo Museum of Art. Museum Purchase Fund, by exchange, 2005.42A-P. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Marisol (1930-2016), Self-Portrait, 1961-1962. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Joseph and Jory Shapiro, 1992.66. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo © MCA Chicago, Nathan Keay

The fourth gallery displays Marisol’s work in the 1970s, when her popularity peaked. She started to take intensive diving lessons which inspired her to create pieces related to the underwater world and the ocean environment such as films, paintings of seascapes and a sculpture of a real-size fish-man. 

The Louis Falco Dance Company’s performance of Caviar, 1970. Décor and costumes by Marisol. Marisol Papers, Buffalo AKG Art Museum
View of the exhibition Marisol: A Retrospective. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo MMFA, Denis Farley

Moving on to the fifth gallery, the space is filled with creations Marisol made using different parts of her body: there is a painting she created by pressing herself onto the paper while soaked in ink, as well as some clay hands, arms, feet and faces. There is a shift here between her usual approach of abstracting the female body through wooden sculpture to abstracting it through impressions.

View of the exhibition Marisol: A Retrospective. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo MMFA, Denis Farley
Marisol (1930-2016), Diptych, 1971. Buffalo AKG Art Museum, gift of Mrs. George A. Forman, by exchange, 2022, 2022:4a-b. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo Brenda Bieger, Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Naturally, the final gallery features the work Marisol made toward the end of her life. In the 1980s and 90s, she continued to make political pieces. She created public monuments, which are mostly in Venezuela. 

Marisol (1930-2016), American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial, 1991. The Battery, Manhattan, New York. Colour photograph, from the Marisol Papers, Buffalo AKG Art Museum. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

She also met a shaman around that time and was deeply affected by this encounter, which inspired some paintings and sculptures that have a distinctly mystical quality to them. In the 2010s, she went back to colorful drawings, bringing her artistic journey full circle. She died in 2016, at age 86.

View of the exhibition Marisol: A Retrospective. © Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo MMFA, Denis Farley

Marisol’s retrospective will be on view at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts through Jan. 21, 2024.

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

The simultaneous lands of dreams

“A Coin on a Tongue” is now on view at Espace Maurice.

“A Coin on A Tongue” is an exhibition curated by Marie-Ségolène C. Brault at her apartment-gallery, Espace Maurice, located on Ontario street in Montréal. The exhibition includes works by artists Adrienne Greenblatt, Dante Guthrie and Anjali Kasturi, that encapsulate their spiritual, fantastical and historical world-building visions through their unique visual languages and conceptual framing. Each piece depicts historical fractions or fantastical worlds that coexist with our universe. 

Adrienne Greenblatt, Sheol i & ii, 2023, Borosilicate Glass. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

Adrienne Greenblatt’s glasswork installations occupy several corners of the gallery. The pieces offer multisensorial references to the human body, alchemy, medieval weaponry and esotericism through the use of hair, metal gates and glass. Each glossy surface draws attention to how sunlight reflects and refracts around the exhibition space. The ghostly materiality of each one urges the viewers to embrace their spiritual and historical vivacity. They welcome the presence of artifacts with historical characteristics and essence in the modern space of the gallery. 

Dante Guthrie, Bergmeister, bismuth. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

Dante Guthrie’s metal works are infused with the illusion of gothic architecture and storytelling through his combination of traditional atelier process and modern technologies. His metallic and abstracted architectural façades and frames are copiously detailed but open to interpretation in terms of conceptual vision—the frames can be interpreted as a depiction of a fantastical world, a futuristic prophecy, a medieval illusion, a talisman or a symbolic illustration of a spiritual practice.

View of the gallery, Espace Maurice, paintings by Anjali Kasturi. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

As for Anjali Kasturi’s paintings, their use of desaturated and washed-like colors, foggy depiction of space and mysterious representation of objects and landscapes convey a sense of fantasticality and fear of the unknown. The pieces invite us into the happenings and to explore the sensational atmosphere—to smell and feel the fog or the breeze. They allow the viewer to perceive the works in relation to their personal experience and capacity, focusing on the individual connection and interpretation of the space of the works. Each painting portrays an imaginary universe, a symbolic representation of an event or a dream traced back to an individual experience.

Anjali Kasturi, Gate 7, 2023, oil on canvas, 20”x24”. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

Throughout the exhibition, the various materials used in the works resemble distinct feelings and conversations that emphasize the relationship between the artists, their materials and their spiritual practices.

View of the Gallery, Espace Maurice. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

Looking at the venue of the exhibition itself, a studio apartment, offers visitors a sense of community and movement. The continuity of the exhibition into the living space connects the works in the gallery and personal belongings. We do not necessarily know where the exhibition starts and where it ends, challenging the definition of a public space and public display. “A Coin on a Tongue” will be on view until Oct. 28.

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit Student Life

How a bike becomes home

A group of artists who cycled Canada from coast-to-coast displayed their photographs at the Woodnote.

ViaVélo was a temporary photography exhibition organized by Concordia student Sampson McFerrin and Luke Welton at the Woodnote Solidarity Cooperative between Sept. 15 and 17. The Concordian shared a friendly conversation with McFerrin regarding his experience organizing the show, the works on display, the team’s curatorial choices and the idea behind the exhibition. 

McFerrin’s parents are both avid cyclists, therefore he and his brothers grew up cycling and exploring the world on their bikes. He spoke of the inherently healthy and unique lifestyle that comes with regular cycling. The activity became an inseparable part of his identity—as an adult he began to seek out opportunities to explore different parts of the world through cycling and build a community to share his passion with. 

McFerrin is a Print Media major at Concordia University with a minor in Business—a combination that gave him the tools to successfully organize ViaVélo. The exhibition presented a collection of memories from his coast-to-coast journey across Canada. Photography and documentation captivated him during his earlier travels and these creative tools served as inspiration for the trip and offered him means to capture it.

 The gallery consisted of two rooms that displayed a collection of photographs and paintings by McFerrin and Welton. The photos encapsulate the experience of the two artists and a few others, who cycled from Victoria, British Columbia, all the way to St. John’s, Newfoundland, spanning 10 provinces and over 11,000 km. They started their journey during the summer of 2020  before they were interrupted by the pandemic’s restrictions and finished their adventure in 2023. 

Photograph from the ViaVélo collection. Courtesy of Sampson McFerrin.

By displaying the photos of their trip, the artists aimed to represent their journey and introduce different ways of seeing Canada. Through storytelling and captured memories of friendships, community and their lifestyle on the road, the exhibition proposes a new perception of the Canadian experience.

Viewers were met with photos of all 10 Canadian provinces, which McFerrin noted really capture the essence of the specific place and time it was taken. The presence of McFerrin’s bike in the gallery space, loaded with all the necessities for the trip, adds to the vivid memory of their life on the road. “The bike became the home that you take care of, and it takes care of you,” McFerrin said.

Exit mobile version