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

Caitlin Dix captures tender moments in their monumental paintings

Recently shown in Concordia’s VAV Gallery’s temporary exhibition Cycles of Existence, Dix shared their process and inspiration.

From Oct. 23 to Nov. 2, the Cycles of Existence exhibition at the VAV Gallery featured a number of Concordia’s Fine Arts students who explore the mysterious cycles and patterns of history in their work. 

“Growth, the seasons, emotions, our bodies, strife in the world, breathing, everything we know seems to exist in a cycle,” stated the VAV Gallery on their Instagram. “Cycles of Existence explores exactly this—the cyclical nature of life, either in the subconscious, the physical, or the abstract.”

Caitlin Dix currently studies at the undergraduate level of the Concordia visual arts program. The Concordian spoke with the artist at the VAV’s opening reception for Cycles of Existence about their own installation, Tender Gardens.

Dix described their work as the display of archived family moments that captures their deep connection with nature through gardening, food preparation and sharing food with their family. Dix’s artistic practice encapsulates their childhood nostalgia, family heritage and generational practices. The ritualistic relationship that food has to family and nature emerges as a central theme in Tender Gardens

In this exhibition, they represent the women of their family, particularly their grandmother and mother, as modern-day gatherers—the active sustainers of the community and their family. Dix said that appreciating and caring for nature is inseparable from their family’s traditions. 

The installation involved three larger-than-life unstretched canvases, suspended from the ceiling. Broad strokes of bright colors—greens, blues and purples with the occasional orange or red detail—draw the viewer into a scene of Dix’s family members in a garden. The inviting work is meant to be fully immersive, where the viewer becomes a part of the scene in front of them—Dix’s grandmother smiles at them. 

Caitlin Dix, detail of Tender Gardens, VAV Gallery. Photo by Shaghayegh Naderolasli.

An interesting experience awaits viewers as they navigate through the installation. When standing in front of the pieces, viewers encounter a clear image of the scene and are invited to imagine themselves standing in the garden before them. The use of fiber materials to create textural illusions is incorporated into all three paintings, offering a multi-sensorial experience with objects, nature, and figures. 

Moving around to the reverse side of the canvas, the image becomes murky—a ghostly impression of the paint seeping through the canvas. This blurry version of the scene appears almost like a memory, creating a temporal distance between the viewer and the subject of the painting. The relationship between the two sides of the installation speaks to the passage of time; the time between witnessing a moment and seeking to remember it months or perhaps years later.

Caitlin Dix, detail of the reverse side of Tender Gardens, VAV Gallery. Photo by Shaghayegh Naderolasli.

See more of Caitlin Dix’s work on their Instagram account: @caitlin_dix_art.


The Arab World Festival of Montreal: experiencing intercultural exchanges through art

Don’t miss out on this festival of encounters and fusions between Eastern and Western worlds

The 23rd edition of The Arab World Festival of Montreal (FMA) is currently underway in the city until Nov. 13.

All are welcome to join this eclectic festival, which offers both free and ticketed events — from performing arts spectacles to cultural forums/conferences and cinematic experiences.

The Concordian had the pleasure of discussing the importance of this unique Montreal festival with the FMA’s communications and programming assistant Céline Camus.

Camus explained that the FMA “aims to be a meeting place, where many artists point out the similarities between Arab cultures but also the cultures of the rest of the world, whether in the East or in the West.”

This dynamic festival, where such dialogues are artistically facilitated and celebrated, is important in “a city like Montreal where diversity is the very essence of life,” added Camus.

The theme of this year’s edition is Corporeal: When the Flesh Dictates the Story! It is all about acknowledging the physical abilities and limitations of the body, while honouring the self in connection with the world.

During the FMA, visitors can expect to see local and international artists/intellectuals explore the corporeal theme through artworks, dances, and films in relation to their distinct and varied Arab cultures.

The Art of Skin: Body Painting Workshop and Live Painting were two events that took place on Nov. 1 at the Kawalees Cultural Cabaret as part of the festival. This low-key bar located in the Mile End neighbourhood had a quaint café-like vibe, which offered a vibrant yet relaxed setting for artist Zoya Tavangar’s intimate painting show.

During the Body Painting Workshop, Tavangar painted on a model’s face. Rather than using the model as a visual muse, Tavangar used the model’s face as a canvas itself. Drawing inspiration from the artistic and symbolic expression of tattoos, Tavangar colourfully re-painted a face on the model’s face, which — as she explained to the audience — “is in the art style of Cubism.”

Tavangar then proceeded onto the Live Painting event, where she painted a blue, realism-style portrait of a young woman. While Tavangar was focused on her painting, festival-goers were able to view her work up-close, or observe from their tables while having drinks or even ordering hummus and pita to snack on.

One such festival-goer that The Concordian was able to chat with was Redouane Ali who was experiencing the FMA for the first time.

“When I heard about this festival, it definitely interested me,” he said. Ali added that he specifically chose to visit The Art of Skin events because “after a busy day at work, watching an artist paint live while being able to have dinner seemed cool and therapeutic.”  

The FMA is a Montreal gem and should not be overlooked. For those still interested in partaking in the festival, here is a list of shows and events that are still available!


Ji zoongde’eyaang opens with a strong heart

Mother and daughter dig up old works to tell a story on Indigenous heritage in new MAI exhibition

Montréal, arts interculturels, or MAI for short, opened Ji zoongde’eyaang on Oct. 22. The exhibition features work from Lara Kramer and Ida Baptiste, an Anishinaabe Oji-Cree mother-daughter duo. The title, in Anishinaabemowin, means “to have a strong heart”.

Baptiste is a visual artist, traditional pow wow dancer and Ojibwa language teacher based in Rama, Ontario. She is a member of the Berens River First Nation, Treaty 5 territory. Many of her works, consisting of oil on canvas, weaving and printmaking, were famously shown between 1975 and 1990 in Ontario.

Lara Kramer, her daughter, is a performer, choreographer and artist of many disciplines from Oji-Cree and settler descent. Her work is grounded in intergenerational relations, intergenerational knowledge and the impacts of the Indian Residential Schools in Canada. 

Most of the pieces in this exhibition touch on generational practices as well as experiences involving memory, loss and reclamation. Some of the works by Baptiste are from the early ’90s and have never been seen before, representing her experiences from her time at Brandon Indian Residential School in Manitoba.

Baptiste worked as an Ojibwa language teacher at Mnjikaning Kendaaswin Elementary School in Rama, Ontario from 2011 to 2019. “There’s a big language component in all of these works and it’s reflected here with the audio recording of them learning together, but the exhibition of all of these blankets actually started during the pandemic,” said MAI head of communications Jaëlle Dutremble-Rivet.

Much of Baptiste’s works consist of oil paint on canvas. Many of these paintings depict young Indigenous children superimposed over backgrounds thematically tied to residential schools. 

In addition to the language component of this exhibition, Kramer and Baptiste collaborated to gather several trade blankets representative of Kramer’s memories growing up and connecting with her Oji-Cree culture. “Gorgeous Tongue,” one of the blankets on display, represents Kramer’s memories of growing up in poverty. She also touches upon sentiments of rebirth and family lineage. 

“Emily” is a trade blanket that represents Kramer’s relationship to her lineage. She speaks of her “nookomis,” her mother’s mother, and the brief relationship they had. Kramer recounts witnessing her nookomis’ anguish through a series of seemingly paranormal interactions. The piece has heavy tones of generational trauma and the ways in which they shape intergenerational relationships. 

The trade blanket has a lot of meaning. It was used during colonization, spreading smallpox to indigenous communities — a devastation in the genocide against Indigenous people. The blankets were also used in trade between different communities. Kramer and Baptiste are reworking and tasking that symbol, adding regalia from traditional jingle dresses and beading work. 

“The paintings were an addition because at the beginning it was only supposed to be the blankets and a projection,” said Dutremble-Rivet. For instance, the painting titled #64 is a triptych of a young child on a swing set, with a background composed of different numbers. 

“All of the children in residential schools were given numbers, and 64 was Ida’s number,” said Dutremble-Rivet. “There’s a lot of residential school history in Ida’s work. [Ji zoongde’eyaang] is a really important work to show, especially that it was truth and reconciliation day a month ago, so it’s the real history.” 
For more information about the exhibition, please visit the MAI’s website.

Ar(t)chives Arts

Nighthawks portrays urban ennui and isolation

Edward Hopper’s famous painting displays a scene at a late night diner, depicting life in the city as an alienating experience despite being in the constant company of others 

When Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks reached the public eye in 1942, many art critics observed two common themes: isolation and apathy. The painting, on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, is one of the best examples of Hopper’s fascination with American realism. To this day, it remains one of the most well-known paintings of the 20th century. 

The painting features a small diner, lit up by abrasive fluorescent lights that spill out onto the dark and desolate streets of New York. Inside the diner are a young waiter, a man and a woman who may (or may not) be a couple, and a mysterious man who faces away from the viewers. The scene, at first glance, resembles something a late night passerby might observe in the latest hours of the night. But when we start to look a bit closer, the scene is unsettling.

While Hopper admitted that isolation wasn’t a key theme he had in mind when he created this painting, he explained that “unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.” In 1942, many were grappling with the devastating effects that WW2 was producing. Some have speculated that a newspaper rests beside the faceless man, one that may have announced ample amounts of tragic news taking place during the time. This would also explain why the diner’s occupants appear so glum. 


Hopper, perhaps unknowingly, managed to do a spectacular job of capturing the feeling of urban ennui and loneliness with Nighthawks. Through the diner’s large window, we are granted a glimpse into a world where interactions appear strained and the subjects are more preoccupied with their thoughts or worries than they are with one another. They share the same space, but they appear worlds apart. 

Life in the city has a way of both uniting and alienating people, especially in the darkest hours of the night. The man and woman who sit together in this painting are a prime example of this: despite sitting very close to one another, their body language emits a palpable distance. They both appear reluctant to talk to one another or meet each other’s gaze. The woman’s attention is focused on something green that she holds in her hand, while the man stares straight ahead, looking bored. Have the two been in a fight? Have they both received some bad news? Is one of them thinking of ending the relationship? Are they even in a relationship? For years, questions like these have plagued Hopper’s fans.  

Another key feature of the painting lies in the exterior of the diner. The dark streets are desolate, and without the diner’s fluorescent lights, the exterior would be completely dark. Across the street stands a building, with the bottom floor occupied by what appears to have once been a store. The storefront has been cleared out, with only empty shelves serving as proof that a store ever existed here. Additionally, above the store, there are several apartment units. In one of the apartment windows, there is an eerie figure that is barely distinguishable from the dark. Many have argued that it could be a human or a cat, though on closer inspection, it resembles neither. Some have concluded that it could also be the reflection of a street light. 

Despite Nighthawks’ enigmatic nature, many have resonated with this painting for its accurate depiction of what life in a metropolitan setting is like, even if Hopper never meant for viewers to interpret the painting this way. 


Visuals courtesy Taylor Reddam & Edward Hopper

Ar(t)chives Arts

Glimpse into Wifredo Lam’s ‘The Jungle’

Despite Lam’s extensive collection of works, one particular painting persists as his most memorable

Without any context, Cuban-born artist Wifredo Lam’s The Jungle could be perceived as a wild fever dream, where surreal creatures are intertwined with the jungle’s flora. Stare at this piece for long enough, and you might convince yourself that you’re able to make sense of the jumble of limbs as you attempt to figure out which foot belongs to which creature. Or, stare at the piece for too long, and you might become more and more confused. 

Many people appear to be equally mesmerized and stumped by this painting, mainly for its unruly blend of cubist-style shapes and its restrained colour palette, with its cool blues and tinges of red and orange that aid in concealing Lam’s creatures. None of the beings in this painting clearly resemble humans, though they do share several human characteristics, such as feet, hands, and eyes. 

If one starts to examine The Jungle in all of its painstaking detail, they might find some things that appear out of place. Take for instance, in the top right corner of the artwork: a hand grasping a large set of shears. Or if we examine the jungle’s trees closer, we’ll find that their trunks resemble something else entirely: sugar cane stalks. While these two details could easily be skimmed over, they’re important hints in regards to Lam’s inspiration for this chaotic piece.

Cuba, with its history of slavery and colonialism, served as a catalyst for The Jungle, with Lam explaining, “I wanted with all my heart to paint the drama of my country,” Lam explained, “to disturb the dreams of the exploiters.” The shears and sugar cane stalks can be perceived as a commentary on the colonizers who arrived in Cuba during the sixteenth century.

Much of Lam’s work sought to celebrate Afro-Cuban spirituality and culture, and also served to change the ways in which people viewed colonized countries. Lam’s work offers an insight into the country’s diverse cultural background, and instead of focusing solely on the role that colonizers played in the country’s history, he manages to reclaim western notions of Cuba being a primitive country, utilizing them in his art to create engaging, abstract scenes. Although Lam produced an impressive variety of works throughout his career as an artist, The Jungle persists as one of his most complex works to date.


Visual by Taylor Reddam

Ar(t)chives Arts

A brief look at artist Emily Carr’s totemic paintings: innovation or appropriation?

The well-known Canadian artist’s work has sparked debates for quite some time when it comes to her paintings that depict Indigenous art and communities

The work of Emily Carr has no doubt captured the attention of Canadian art connoisseurs throughout the years, and many have hailed her work as innovative. There’s perhaps no other artist who has represented British Columbia’s wilderness and its people so diligently and vividly as Carr. Born on Dec. 13, 1871 in Victoria, Carr spent the majority of her life living among breathtaking mountain ranges and verdant forests. Her early work demonstrates a clear fascination with Victoria’s landscape and its vegetation. Despite her education leading her abroad to Europe for a considerable period of time, Carr eventually returned to B.C. not only with refined artistic skills but also with an even more profound appreciation for her homeland.

It was a trip to Ucluelet, a municipality on the west coast of Vancouver Island, that initially piqued Carr’s interest in Indigenous art and culture. She began depicting totemic art and people she met in Indigenous communities in her work during this time. Despite being immortalized as one of Canada’s most talented artists, Carr’s work has also sparked debates by some who view her paintings featuring Indigenous life and totemic art as prime examples of artistic appropriation.

A major turning point in Carr’s career that led her to pursue Indigenous art as her subject matter was a trip in 1907 to Alaska, where she spent the majority of her time immersing herself in the life of the Indigenous community she was staying in. A few years later, in the summer of 1912, still inspired by her trip to Alaska, Carr set out on a trip to Haida Gwaii, an archipelago located 100 kilometres west of the northern coast of B.C. She began working on a collection of paintings, and as Ian Thom writes in Emily Carr Collected, “The primary goal of this large body of work was to document the villages and totems of First Nations people, which Carr, like most Euro-Canadians of her generation, believed were destined to disappear.”

While Carr’s own writing and records from those who were close to her suggest that the artist was dedicated to her subjects’ preservation, there are still some who wonder if Carr really knew enough about these Indigenous communities and their forms of art to make them her focus. Some speculate she was simply caught up in the romanticization of Indigenous life, and was simply emulating their art through her own work. In an article from Canadian Art titled The Trouble with Emily Carr, author Robert Fulford writes, “Did Emily Carr understand native culture in the way she understood, say, the British-colonial Victoria in which she grew up? Or did she understand it in the way a diligent scholar may come to know a single foreign culture after years of study?”

With all of this in mind, Carr still had an undeniably keen eye for important details when it came to all of her pieces. She managed to capture totemic art like no other white, Canadian artist had before. As an artist, her distinctive style showcased the West Coast’s abundance of natural wonders in a manner that is simply inimitable.

Although Carr may or may not have understood Indigenous traditions or a community’s way of life, her paintings depicting totemic art still appear to demonstrate a considerable appreciation for what she witnessed during her time in B.C. — even if only from a superficial standpoint. Many still, and probably always will, remain torn between their admiration of Carr’s haunting work and the ethical questions that arise when we begin to ask, who reserves the right to depict certain subject matter in their art, and who doesn’t?


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


A conversation with artist Henri Bouchard

How COVID-19 helped this Concordia student set his artistic path

It’s no wonder that Henri Bouchard has become successful so rapidly. His works are captivating, and make you fall in love with the images being depicted, like the human body and the environment. Bouchard is a third-year student in studio arts at Concordia.

Ever since COVID-19, he has had the time to develop his talent in painting and share it through social media. “I have a great audience,” said Bouchard. “It has grown since the first few times I posted my works online.” Before enrolling in university, he was already familiar with acrylics. Today, he predominantly works with oil paint, adding beeswax to make it dry faster, while still using acrylic paint for certain elements.

When COVID-19 shut down everything, causing people to stay in their homes, it was only the beginning for Bouchard. His mother rented a cottage in Saint-Anicet, where he stayed for a year, honing his craft. That’s where the magic took place: near the water, with breathtaking sunsets, all of which made him fall in love with the scenery.

Most of his paintings maintain the same colour palette. Bouchard is very much in love with pastel tones. However, this doesn’t hold him back from using darker tones, which are essential to creating contrast. “I’m crazy about pastel colors. There’s something about them that is so appealing to my eyes, and they are a necessity in my work,” said Bouchard.

Bouchard has attracted a variety of people online, especially on Instagram, where his page acts as a self-curated exhibition. He may not be the biggest fan of social media, but it has helped him and brought unexpected success: most of his canvases have already been sold.

“I once had an argument with my mother because I sold a painting to someone else instead of her,” said Bouchard. “She eventually understood that my clientele couldn’t revolve around family.” Something noteworthy about the artist is his portrayal of human bodies.

He also paints landscapes, but mainly portrays body parts. Freedom (2020) is a painting on a homemade canvas that displays the back of a person in blue tones, contrasted with light colors like pink, beige and white. “There has to be a presence of white; it brings brightness to the canvas,” added Bouchard.

Another remarkable work is Yu (2020) on homemade canvas, which illustrates Bouchard cheek-to-cheek with his girlfriend. This was inspired by a selfie they took together. On this canvas, skin details are highlighted with pink and blue, creating a vivid expression on both faces. When looking at it, one can tell that it was made with a lot of love.

“When I fall in love, I fall in love completely,” said Bouchard. “I’m really into romantic things, so maybe that can be something that viewers can see through my work.” This theme of romance can certainly be seen in Save my love (2020), where a woman is holding her partner dearly, capturing a tender, personal moment between two lovers.

In regards to his creative process, Bouchard often swaps his effort between works. He manages to start a canvas and proceed rapidly onto the next. This allows him to recharge and work on another painting, before getting back to the initial work he began. “Sometimes it’s good to step back for a few days, look at the work you’ve been working [on] and see what else can be added or modified,” said Bouchard.

When school began again, Bouchard relocated to Montreal, where he lives with his girlfriend. Here, he has the chance to work in his studio, a place where he is allowed to make a mess. “My workspace needs to be all over the place, it can’t be neat.”

For the moment, Bouchard envisions creating merchandise that promotes his artistic talent. During the summer, he established himself as a painter. Perhaps we’ll be able to see his future work in a gallery exhibition. “Living off my art is what I most desire, and with the audience that I have, it’s been so far very rewarding,” said Bouchard.

Viewers can access all of Henri Bouchard’s works here and keep up to date with his future projects on  Facebook and Instagram.


Photo courtesy of Ana Lucia Londono Flores

Ar(t)chives Arts

Existential art: a brief look at Alex Colville’s Pacific

Pacific, one of Colville’s most well known works, challenges viewers to be inquisitive and to derive their own meaning from this complex piece of art

I first encountered Alex Colville’s work in an introductory art history class during my second year at Concordia. Our professor had us observe several works from the Canadian artist, and try to decipher the meaning behind them.

Colville was primarily concerned with realism, deriving inspiration for many of his works from his life in the Maritimes, as well as his experience serving in the Second World War. Although Colville has quite a few noteworthy paintings, there’s one that has stuck with me ever since I first saw it: Pacific (1967).

This work features a man leaning against a wall as he vacantly stares out at a tranquil body of water. However, this won’t be the first thing that viewers notice. Behind the man rests a pistol on a table, its barrel angled towards the observer. Although Colville’s work often explores themes such as the use of power, postwar anxiety, and morality, coupled with his interest in French existentialism, it appears that the artist would prefer that his audience attempt to interpret what Pacific means to them.

In several of his paintings, Colville presents a landscape that is eerily serene, where he then juxtaposes it with a chaotic subject. His pieces, especially Pacific, leave us with questions that are uncomfortable to confront: what is the man in the painting contemplating? Why is the gun angled towards the audience? Will the man end up using it?

His work draws us in, and instead of providing clear-cut answers and satiating our desire for more vibrant, serotonin-boosting pieces, these paintings demand that we be inquisitive. They expect us to dig a bit deeper, and to get into the heads of the subjects that Colville so carefully crafted.

When viewers are unable to decide on a narrative and make sense of a subject’s motives, they may walk away feeling uneasy. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Art that gets us thinking, especially pieces that cause us to ponder existential questions we may try to avoid, might help us view the world a bit differently. Sure, it can be gloomy to try and make sense of a painting like Pacific, but our own interpretations of a piece often say a lot more about how we view our society and ourselves, rather than the direct intentions of the artist.

In a world where many things tend to move at breakneck speed, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time to engage with a complex work that requires careful introspection from its observer. You might even learn something new about yourself in the process.


Visuals courtesy of Taylor Reddam


Behind the scenes of Mephisto Bates’ universe

Creating universes with primary colours

As part of its second artistic residency,, a community of multidisciplinary artists that showcase the works of various creators, is presenting the works of Montreal-based artist Mephisto Bates.

Created in 2018, is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to bring together all types of artists from the Montreal art scene. The organization aims to provide a sense of support for artists to exhibit their works in an innovative way.

Fragments colossaux: Hommage à Riopelle by interdisciplinary artist Mephisto Bates is hosted at, a multidisciplinary space, located at 22 Duluth Street E.

Bates studied Visual Arts at Cegep du Vieux Montréal a few years ago. It’s now been five years since he took his paintbrush and started working more profoundly on his artistic skills.

While admiring his canvases, it is easy enough to see that the palette is repetitive as Bates works with primary colours such as red, yellow and blue. Bates also uses orange and pink in his works.

To be honest, I dislike mixing colours, it annoys me,” said Bates. “I really like primary colours and with pastel alternatives, it gives my canvases a childish vibe.”

Bates works with acrylic paint and oil pastels. Depending on where he is, he will also use spray paint for his canvas.

In front of the multidisciplinary space’s window, five small paintings are showcased which is his study series. One of the canvases is a remake of a renaissance painting he used to create his own version.

“I find it interesting of reappropriating myself of artworks that already exist and are from another era. That way, I remake the artwork, but in my way,” said Bates.

Bates painted the inspired renaissance canvas with his left hand, even though he’s right-handed. He uses this technique to exaggerate his subjects on paint, giving them disproportionate bodies.

If the result is not exaggerated enough while using his left hand, Bates will simply blindfold himself to create more exaggeration in his work. 

“Before covering my eyes, I prepare my colours. Then, I get lost, I don’t know what colour I am using,” said Bates. “I start my canvas like that to create a composition over which I have as little control as possible.”

The pandemic seems to have brought him luck as he is feeling more creative than ever. This has given him the opportunity to develop his skills and experiment more as he is already doing.

One particular canvas that sheds light on Bates’ unique style is La vierge pi des enfants pi toute (madonna) (2021) This is in reference to Madonna, a representation of the Virgin Mary.

This specific painting depicts a woman with a child on her knee, pointing at another child at her feet. The subjects are faceless, the bodies are disproportionate, but they make the canvas look simple.

The presence of white and black makes the vivid colours of the canvas burst, which emphasizes the light colours in depth.

His works are also a tribute to Jean-Paul Riopelle, a Montreal-based artist who was known for his abstract style of painting and mosaic works in the 1950s. Riopelle is an inspiration for Bates as he created powerful atmospheres on large canvases.

“I paint with colours that anyone could use. I like the idea that primary colours are the base of paint,” said Bates. “It’s like a paint kit for kids: I directly use the paint without having to mix it with another colour.”

The exhibition is presented behind windows, attracting the eyes of the public who can take a glance at the artwork presented in the locale.

Fragments colossaux: Hommage à Riopelle by Mephisto Bates is on display until Feb. 23.


What makes Paint Nite such a hit?

The joy of paying to paint

You’ve seen the memes, you’ve seen the Instagram posts. Paint Nite. Women clad in plaint-spattered aprons pose before their landscape paintings, a paintbrush in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. All for the low cost of… $40??? Yes, that’s right. Paint Nites can cost anywhere between $30 and $80.

Who was willing to pay this? I thought. And why?

I thought to myself, who better to ask than the source, the direct target of such enterprises: the middle-aged suburban mom. My mother, to be exact, and, of course, her scrapbook-loving, book club-going friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my fair share of scrapbooking as a kid— and still partake in craft-making and collaging whenever I get the chance. Reading still remains one of my favourite hobbies, despite it being hard to make the time in my schedule to physically attend a book club. However, I enjoy following along with Drawn & Quarterly’s selections (the True Reads Book Club is a favourite of mine) from the comfort of my home, the bus or wherever I get a chance to read a few pages at a time.

What is it about organized creative events that have become known as activities intended for middle-aged women, specifically of the suburban variety? I’ve wondered this since my childhood. Picture a snowy weeknight in the early 2000s, in Greenfield Park, situated on the South shore of Montreal. Nothing is happening, which was quite ordinary for a primarily Anglophone borough with a population of less than 20,000. My mom would head out the door, tote bag in tow, to go scrapbooking with friends. Being seven years old, the idea of getting together with friends to eat and chat, cut out pictures and paste them on colourful craft paper was incredibly exciting.

Turns out, it actually is this exciting for middle-aged women and young adults, alike. Paint Nite, like scrapbooking club or book clubs, is usually led by one person who provides guidance for the duration of the session.

While artists create art to make a living, others make art to take a break from it. “[As a mother,] and between work, groceries, cleaning and everyday life there’s absolutely no time to get creative,” said Giuseppina Reminiscenza. A single mother of two (my mother, to be clear), she began partaking in social art activities in the early 2000s, after the birth of her two kids. “To expand our social life, we get together with friends and use this opportunity to get creative… it’s me time,” she added.

For young adults, alike, artmaking in a social setting is a chance to unwind and connect with loved ones. “I think making art with friends is always uplifting and happy, whereas sometimes by yourself, you might express yourself more deeply, it’s more personal,” said Nyomie Pandolfini. Between working full-time and attending class, taking time out of her schedule for herself is rarely an option. “Making art brings me to a calming emotional level, it’s therapeutic.”

So maybe, you too should try it. Grab a paintbrush, some drinks and a friend or two and, in the words of Bob Ross, “You too can paint almighty pictures.”



Graphic by @sundaeghost.


The home, the settlers, and the uninvited

Ozone Gleaners explores notions of the “alien” through saturated hues and contrasting textures

Gallery spaces can often feel empty. Stark white walls and neon lights do not make for an inviting space, leaving the artists’ work to liven the space and instate a narrative. On display at Projet Pangée in downtown Montreal, Ozone Gleaners instantly captures the viewer’s attention, compelling them to engage with the work.

The exhibition unifies the works of artists Tiziana La Melia and geetha thurairajah, as a way of exploring representations of history, settling, and the notion of the unwelcome. The space fully embodies its namesake. Ozone is a colourless gas formed from ultraviolet light, while gleaners refers to someone who gathers or harvests. These ideas are further depicted in the narratives of the works and the ways in which they are portrayed.

Saturated in deep purples, blues, and pinks, the eye is instantly drawn to La Melia’s work. The Vancouver-based artist plays with texture and materiality to demonstrate the  polar differences between depictions of simple, or rural life, and notions of abstraction. She alters reality by removing spatial qualities from the work; characters can be found in settings that do not correspond to their garments and certain attributes, such as the size of homes and trees, are not rendered rationally.

In her 2020 work, Visitors, an illustration of a harvest scene is depicted in rich yellows and greens, contrasting with the pale silk canvas on which it is dyed. The artist makes a statement about notions of the unwelcome, through a fantastical approach, by depicting a fable-like narrative. She merges contrasting fantasy-like aspects, seen here as harvesters are standing against the delicate background. The figures wear lingerie-style garments, and seemingly do not belong. The idea of the “alien” lingers in the viewers mind, as they are left thinking about notions of settling and belonging, and can be left to consider the place of the figures in their underwear against a farm-like setting.

Brooklyn-based artist geetha thurairajah uses color and wide brushstrokes to play with the perception of surface and space in her expressive paintings. Her work considers language and histories, exploring these themes in an effort to examine who is left or removed from certain places and settings.

Her 2019 painting, Convergence, features a sketched figural silhouette against an ultraviolet background. Here, she plays with the idea of alienation and demonstrates this via wide brushstrokes to create an indiscernible plane. This makes the setting abstract and unrecognizable to the viewer, leaving them questioning their relationship to the work.

Together, La Melia and thurairajah’s works consider origin stories, and create a space where one is left to contemplate perceptions of space, who gets to belong in certain settings, and ultimately, who gets to write these histories.

Ozone Gleaners is on display at Projet Pangée, at 372 Ste-Catherine St. W, suite 412, until February 15, 2020. The gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m.


Photos by Laurence B.D.

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