The latest exhibition features Elly Strik, for the very first time in Canada, although the artist is well known abroad. Born in The Hague in 1961, she was educated in Europe, and now lives and works in Brussels. Her art is imbued with myriad references, from poetry to psychotherapy, and her scope is large, to say the least.

The title of the exhibitions gives some of Strik’s preoccupations away: To Al the Long Gone Darlings. And to You, referring to Sylvia Plath’s poem All the Dead Dears (’All the long gone darlings: They Get back, though, soon, (…)’)

From a suicidal poet through Darwin to Freud, not to mention Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch, Strik delves into weighty issues others may not tackle. All these influences are filtered through Strik’s highly intellectualized approach to her metier, producing works that can be infuriatingly obscure, needing the artist’s lengthy explanation, or touchingly intimate. From small to large-scale pieces, this is an artist in the throes of self-analysis to which the viewer becomes a captive observer, for not a participant.

One section of the exhibition is called The Dream Room and pays tribute to several figures: Sigmund Freud, Marcel Duchamp, Jerome of Stridon, and Jean-Christophe Ammann. After visiting Freud’s home in Vienna, Strik decided to paint the psychoanalyst’s couch, as well as a many-faced portrait, in additions to works of esoteric, surreal connotations. She explained her choice to Ammann:

I wanted to have the sofa in my studio, to see what would happen. I think Freud is always present. We have lived with his ideas for a long time, we have grown into them. The value he gave to our unconsciousness, our instincts, our dreams. Through him, or better, through watching my version of the sofa, I wanted to come closer to these aspects in myself.

If there is one thing that can be said about this massive and complex presentation, it is that Strik draws like a fiend, channelling her inner wrangling with exquisite lines and strokes...


Elly Strik

To All the Long Gone Darlings. And to You

1700 La Poste

1700 Notre-Dame St W
Montreal, QC
From March 23 to June 24, 2018

Link to poem:
All the Dead Dears by Sylvia Plath

To The Long Gone Darlings, 1997-2017
Oil, lacquer and colour pencil on paper
205,7 cm x 318,8 cm
Photo credit: Johan Luyckx

A Window for Darwin II (4/8), 2015-2016
Ceramic spheres, graphite, oil, lacquer, colour pencil and pigment on paper
47,7 cm x 32 cm
Photo credit: Elly Strik

Little friend, 2014
Oil, lacquer and pigment on paper
45 cm x 31,8 cm
Photo credit: Elly Strik

Photo credit: Koen Theys