Summer must be here if Dale Chihuly's (The) Sun rises in from of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts again... Window-shopping for art should be, or perhaps already unofficially is, the theme for this wonderful albeit brief season. Joining the myriad public works of art dotting the so-called gallery row on Sherbrooke street, are large size sculptures by Sophie Ryder, positioned like some mythical sentinels at the entrance to the Galerie de Bellefeuille, which represents the British artist in Montreal.
Lovers on Horseback belongs to a vast menagerie of mythical beings, half-animal, half-human, at times in the company of perfectly 'normal' animals like dogs and boars, and of course her signature hares, that inhabit, and are borne of the artist's fantastical imagination. "I sculpt characters and beings - the dogs, the hares, the Minotaurs - are all characters beyond animal form," she explains. "I'm not interested in making a replica. If you would put a real hare next to one of mine you would see great differences."
Inspired by Goya, Picasso, and the great English sculptor Henry Moore, Ryder has carved a whimsical niche for herself, and one that serves her career, and her vision, very well. Born in London in 1963, she is widely recognized for her monumental pieces, fragile and solid all at once, static yet in subtle movement. Resisting the eddy of contemporary art trends, she stoically, persistently sticks to her chosen subject matter, honing her technique in the process. Her mystical creatures are made from sawdust and wet plaster, wire and torn scraps of paper, as well as cast in bronze. She has an alter ego in the form of the Lady Hare, a hybrid female-animal personage, that appears in most of her sculptural compositions. Juxtaposed with the ultra masculine Minotaur, she harks at the moon and things nocturnal, and the mystery of Celtic lore.

Ryder's public sculptures are competing with a pantheon of figures, mythical and other, that populate the Sculpture Garden belonging to the adjacent MMFA, works by the likes of Jim Dine, Auguste Renoir, David Altmejd, and her own compatriots Henry Moore, Barry Flanagan and Antony Gormley. The just-installed Moving Dunes only add to the visual feast.

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1455 Sherbrooke St. W.
Montreal, QC externe)

June 14 to July 6, 2018

Photo credits:

Lovers on Horseback, bronze, 80 5/8" x 83 3/4" x 35"

Sitting Minotaur with Little Lady, bronze, 23 1/2" x 18" x 18"

Sophie Ryder, sculptor