Fast forward, and Jana Sterbak is this year's recipient of the most prestigious arts award in Quebec, the Paul-Émile Borduas Prize. A celebration of a 40-year career, but by no means its culmination. Czech-born Sterbak has an international reputation, and a talent that, even at this stage, seems to have no bounds.

An exhibition of 30 years of her drawings at Galerie Laroche/Joncas proves the point. These whimsical, delicate works speak an entirely different visual language, far removed from her installation/happening presentations, yet still carrying the theme of the body and its representation in art. This is not the human condition message of Vanitas, or the relationship between spectator and art of Here to There videos shown in Venice, but it is all Sterbak.

I have always respected artists who could draw. And believe me, there are many who do not, even if their paintings and sculptures garner attention. Sterbak can and does draw, but her fine line creations are like magical notations carrying invisible and endless visual possibilities while encapsulating emotions using the slimmest of means. Presented salon-style on one wall of the gallery, they invite the viewer to a personal, fragmented visual journey. Writing appears in some of the drawings, others are but a gesture, minimalist but prescient, the beginning of a thought... or feeling.

Accompanying the drawings are two sculptural pieces, exhibiting the same kind of intellectual whimsy that is the hallmark of this artist.

Cones on Hands is like a jester's glove, while I Made It celebrates a kind of fame via the use of red ribbons used to wrap luxury gifts, piled on, and spilling from, a white pedestal.

JANA STERBAK: 30 YEARS OF DRAWING

Galerie Laroche/Joncas
372 St. Catherine St W
Room 410
Montreal, QC
www.larochejoncas à videotron.ca

November 4 to December 23, 2017

 

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Cones on Hands, 1979, measuring tape, fiberglass hand, wooden base, plexi- glass, wood
40x20x15 cm

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Thinking Out Loud, 36drawings, ink, watercolour, graphite on paper.
132x426.7 cm

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I Made It, 2011, Ribbon, variable dimensions,
121.9x30.4x48.2 cm

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I Made It (detail)