They say that love keeps you young. Well, so does art. It's enough to look at the career and démarche of Montreal artist François Morelli, marked by an endless enthusiasm and fascination with art-making. His wonderfully playful approach is on full display at 1700 La Poste, a gallery with a penchant for colourful characters, artists with a particularly individualistic and unapologetic stance.

Morelli was born in Montreal in 1953 and graduated with a BFA in painting and drawing from Concordia University, where he has been teaching since 1996. Teaching, in fact, has been weaving throughout Morelli's career, from Trois-Rivières to New York. Numerous awards sprinkle his creative meanderings.

Morelli fashions himself along the image of a Renaissance artist, one engaged in several disciplines, be it drawing and print or installation and performance. What is on display in this vast exhibition however, are 40 years of drawings, Morelli's preeminent passion.

As with other exhibitions at 1700 La Poste, the entire gallery space has been configured to suit the creative vision of both Isabelle de Mevius, its director and curator, and the artist. One room has been carved out to house Morelli's playful 3D Belthead series, while entire walls have been taken over by giant drawings.

His works on paper are whimsical and free flowing, taking shape in organic increments, almost outside the artist's control, and entirely at the mercy of his imagination. Fuelled by travel, influenced by material — the choice of type of paper in many of the works dictates the image — he is constantly involved in visual notations that have more to do with a personal need than one of creative contribution. Allowed to scour his studio, de Mévius discovered a plethora of drawings never before shown, lovingly stored in drawers upon drawers, like precious postcards from myriad voyages, both real and imagined.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Les Éditions de Mevius has published a sumptuous art book focusing on previously unseen visual journals that Morelli draws every day; with texts by Bernard Lamarche, Curator of Contemporary Art at the MNBAQ, and Jake Moore, artist, cultural worker, and independent curator.

The show is also accompanied by a 48-minute film dedicated to Morelli and his workshop. Directed by Suzanne Guy, it invites the viewer into the artist's inner sanctum, and albeit a tad too long and repetitive, casts yet another light on this colourful personality.

François Morelli
Dessins, installations, sculptures
1700 La Poste
1700, rue Notre-Dame Ouest
October 6, 2017 to January 30, 2018

Belthead I
1998, Belts, rivets, concrete block and mirror
Photo: Guy L’Heureux

Dream Figures in Moonlight (9/12)
2015, Ink and ink pad on paper
Photo: Guy L’Heureux

À la frontière entre deux mondes XXXI (recto et verso)
1989, Ink on paper
Photo: Guy L’Heureux

Photo : Béatrice Flynn