Élaine Despins : A Luminous Darkness

In art, hands are imbued with rich symbolism; their body language is an integral part of the visual narrative. They are also the hardest to master, and many a great composition was lost to inadequate rendition. In her latest exhibition, Quebec artist Élaine Despins takes on this daunting challenge with [...]

- 3 mins read
Françoise Sullivan
Still Dancing

This year Québec celebrates the 70th anniversary of the publication of Refus global, a manifesto marking a turning point in the cultural history of the province. It was truly revolutionary, challenging the existing societal values and the overwhelming influence of the clergy and its widespread use of censorship. That ‘dark past’ was [...]

- 6 mins read
Melsa Montagne

“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”  (André Berthiaume) The original French title of Melsa Montagne’s latest exhibition, Indicible, can be translated in a number of ways: unspeakable, unutterable, ineffable, indescribable... and they all apply. She has chosen one of the [...]

- 3 mins read
Behind the Mask

Picasso. The name is like a key to an alternative universe, an artistic cipher instantly recognizable worldwide, and incessantly beguiling. The great Spanish master left behind a legacy of massive proportions, partly due to his longevity and the “interesting times” he lived in, but mostly because of his enormous talent, [...]

- 3 mins read
Anick Langelier
Art Inferno

It is simply impossible not to quote Jean Dubuffet when speaking of Anick Langelier’s paintings, for they are true examples of the Art Brut genre he formulated. A predecessor of contemporary “outsider” art, it referred to work done by the disenfranchised, the mentally ill, those imprisoned, on the fringes of society. With no formal [...]

- 3 mins read
Peter Krausz
The Memory of Gesture

Time captured in a motion of the hand across canvas, of pencil across paper, of thought across the mind... images stored for future use. This is what’s at the root of an exhibition of works by Montreal artist, Peter Krausz, at Toronto’s Mira Godard Gallery. Aptly titled Then and Now, it [...]

- 3 mins read
Marc Leduc. Art Encrypted

Sometimes I think Marc Leduc is the best-kept secret on the Montreal art scene. A prolific... 'Enjoy' is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, since Leduc's visual lexicon can at times weave a dark narrative. His style is incomparable, informal, flirting with art brut, unencumbered and cryptic, to borrow from [...]

- 1 min read
Nadia Myre
Burnt offerings

Canada’s 150th anniversary is proving to be a lightning rod for issues of concern to First Nations peoples. From political discussions over land treaties and residential schools fallout, to cultural events showcasing Indigenous art and culture, the country is coming to terms with its complex history. Not to be outdone, [...]

- 3 mins read
Leonard Cohen
Through the looking glass

A year has passed since Leonard Cohen died. Montreal’s beloved son, the iconic poet and singer is being feted extensively. Giant murals have been painted in two different districts of the city, Cohen’s face looking down like some kind of patron saint. Probably the greatest feat of commemorative fervour is [...]

- 3 mins read
“Marginaux et francs-tireurs”
Dancing on the Edge

What a deliciously tricky question. But ask Robert Poulin and he will probably respond that one can like both. This Montreal gallery owner, and one time professional artist, has a penchant, or rather a passion for outsider art, low brow, Art Brut, call it what you like, it is not [...]

- 3 mins read
“The Cardinal”
A Film by Co Hoedeman

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness. It often involves exposure to trauma from single events that involve death or the threat of death or serious injury. (...) Thus begins the lengthy definition of this widespread disorder, and the list of those affected and the many causes keeps growing. Whether it’s child [...]

- 3 mins read
Alicia Lorente
Silent Parting in Pictures

Photography is possibly an example of the most symbiotic, and dual relationships an artist can have with his or her subject matter. Behind the lens does not mean behind a demarcation line; often just the contrary - good photography requires both a merging and a distancing. Spanish-born photographer and painter [...]

- 3 mins read
John Eaton – The Book of Life

Vie des Arts would like to pay tribute to the painter John Eaton (1942-2020) who recenlty passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. There are artists you have no need to ask why they paint. John Eaton paints to commune with nature. He is in a constant, [...]

- 3 mins read
Federico Carbajal
Janus Redux

It all depends how you look at it. Federico Carbajal is a visual conjurer whose works flirt with several disciplines, from sculpture to anatomy. For this exhibition, the Mexican-born artist brings together works from four distinct series: Bipolar Asymmetries, Wireheads and Portrait Shadows and the latest, eponymous Dissecting Thoughts. All play with the idea of polarity, duality, [...]

- 4 mins read
Jimy Sloan
Modern Shape Shifter

Gone are the days when an artist could be referenced by his or her ‘school’. Gone are the Nabis and the Surrealists, gone the Dadaists and the Pointillists. This makes the task of placing an artist within a context so much more challenging. Jimy Sloan presents just such a challenge. Graduate [...]

- 3 mins read
Jacynthe Carrier
Broken Silence

Jacynthe Carrier has carved a solid niche for herself in the contemporary art world. It’s a quiet place from which she carries a discourse of existential dimensions. She is fascinated by nature and our relationship to it and with it. Her photographs seek out abandoned spaces, both urban and rural, [...]

- 3 mins read
Weaving Time: The Art of Anna Torma, Claire Labonté, and Marigold Santos

In the myth of Ariadne, the thread she gave to Theseus led him out of the Minotaur’s maze. In a fascinating exhibition of three Canadian women artists, the threads they weave through their art lead us deep into their mythical labyrinths. Perhaps because the myth chosen by the curator Isabelle de Mévius as [...]

- 3 mins read
Daniel Barkley
Body as Canvas

For years now, I have followed the career of Daniel Barkley. From his densely populated mythological scenes, through series of nudes in allegorical settings, to his latest production, which steadily continues on an upward curve. Born in Montreal in 1962, Barkley graduated in fine arts from Concordia University, an institution [...]

- 3 mins read
David Drebin
I’m only alone in a crowd

In a world inundated with images, it takes a particular talent and stamina to come out on top. David Drebin has it in spades and he is, indeed, on top of the world. His striking, glossy photographs sell in tens of thousands of dollars, international galleries vie for his work [...]

- 4 mins read
Robert Mapplethorpe – Through a glass Darkly...

Robert Mapplethorpe rose out of the heady times that were the 1970s and 1980s in America, and in New York in particular. They culminated in the so-called Culture Wars and the explosion of AIDS that decimated the artistic milieu. Against that backdrop, Mapplethorpe’s photographs seek a certain distancing while at [...]

- 4 mins read
La belle époque

The latest offering from the Montreal Museum of Fine arts, an intimate exhibition of the works of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), is like a postcard from the past, infused with cigar smoke and perfume. Showcasing the private Phillips Collection (Washington, DC), it contains almost all of the most famous of [...]

- 2 mins read
Edmund Alleyn
In my studio, I am many

Edmund Alleyn (1931-2004), like Marc-Aurèle Fortin, was one of those elusive, underappreciated artists that albeit unquestionably part of the cultural fabric of Quebec, laboured largely on the periphery of contemporary trends of the day. Alleyn, even more than the stylized Fortin, was and remains difficult to categorize. And that would be [...]

- 3 mins read
Gabor Szilasi
The Creative Impulse

''I went out on the viewing terrace, at Dorval airport, and I saw this beautiful shape. It’s only when I developed the negative that I discovered the graphics of the image. It is one of the first images I made.'' It was a wonderful feeling sitting across the table from [...]

- 4 mins read
Eva Lapka
The Artist's Hands

Artist’s Hands by Eva Lapka is a striking piece. Tragic and poignant, it is at once an offering and a plea. The element of hands is a common subject matter that appears in the œuvres of almost every sculptor, from Rodin to Nauman. In the art of Eva Lapka, it [...]

- 3 mins read
Khosro Berahmandi
Art as Metaphor

Arched like a portal, Nebulous Rings is indeed an entryway to a truly magical realm. The rich cultural tapestry that is Montreal’s art scene is woven of myriad threads, silken strands and coarse hemp. It unravels endlessly while encapsulating entire pictorial, and personal, universes. To encounter the art of Khosro Berahmandi is to [...]

- 3 mins read
In the Spotlight: Joel Stevens

Scratching the Surface It is the bane of major cities worldwide, blight on the urban landscape. But many will argue that graffiti is a form of art and have examples to prove it. Plural of graffito, a 19th century Italian word for ‘a scratch’, this spontaneous form of visual expression [...]

- 3 mins read
Kittie Bruneau. Eruptions

Kittie Bruneau (b. 1929) has been compared to everyone from Picasso through Kokoschka to Joan Mirò, with a touch of Jean Dubuffet for good measure. And while some of these references are not without merit, they ultimately do a disservice to the original and utterly unshackled spirit of this artist. [...]

- 3 mins read
The Fine in Fine Arts: Concordia University's Faculty of Fine Arts

Concordia University in Montreal is one of the top educational institutions in this country, with 45,954 students enrolled in its courses according to the latest statistics. And its flagship, without a doubt, is the Faculty of Fine Arts. In its 40-year history, the artists, historians and creative minds within the [...]

- 4 mins read
Jason de Graaf
Verisimilitude Reflected

“The illusion of verisimilitude on the painted surface,” is how Jason de Graaf describes his luminous works. At first glance unnervingly like razor sharp photographs, upon closer inspection they reveal an inner space, an alter ego as it were, and it is that of the artist. Indisputably painterly, de Graaf’s hyper realistic works chronicle his [...]

- 3 mins read
Eva Lapka. Cries and Whispers

Clay is such a primordial material. Versatile and pliable, it has been moulded to human emotions from time immemorial. In the hands of ceramist Eva Lapka, it evokes layers. With 20 pieces on display, Les Songes showcases the award-winning Montreal artist’s latest production. The works are purely sculptural, be it masks, heads, [...]

- 2 mins read
M.C Escher. Mathemagician

Maurits Cornelis Escher (1872-1989) was a truly original talent, and one of the most unusual artists. This versatile Dutchman, a celebrated illustrator, was a master printmaker, made famous for his mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. M.C. Escher, as he is better known, was fascinated with the notion of space and [...]

- 2 mins read
Sophie Calle. Under the Skin

It is intriguing how in Sophie Calle’s work the subtle becomes personal then obvious and then subtle again, in an endless circle that entraps the viewer. But beware of the seduction. The art of this irreverent, and unstoppable, artist has a deep psychological effect on the unsuspecting. Her latest exhibition, For [...]

- 4 mins read
Dina Podolsky. Re-surfacing

Dina Podolsky’s art harks to the past; from the Old Masters’ quality of her paintings to the subject matter focused entirely on still life. And although these two aspects of her production remain, something completely new has taken hold of her painterly expression, and the changes manifested in her latest works [...]

- 3 mins read
Co Hoedeman. Blue

“Children do not constitute anyone’s property: they are neither the property of their parents nor even of society. They belong only to their own future freedom.”— Mikhail Bakunin At what point does art turn into protest? What does it take to produce a Guernica? How much horror is needed for The Disasters of War? For Co Hoedeman [...]

- 2 mins read
Jim Dine revisited

At 79, Jim Dine is still going strong albeit along a well-trodden path. Relying on his trademark subject matter, he releases his signature pieces with nothing less than indomitable resolve. If one considers that in his long career, Dine has produced tens of thousands of paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, [...]

- 3 mins read
Hervé Constant. Between Satie and Soutine

Ask Hervé Constant what he thinks about his adopted city of London, England, and he will share Céline’s sentiment. Unlike the French writer, however, Constant, the artist, injects no irony into his words. Born in Morocco, raised in France, and now settled in London, he finds it “more tranquil, more [...]

- 4 mins read
Gregory Hardy. Beyond Landscape

When is a landscape not a landscape? When it melds into an abstracted realm of pure plasticity, confounding and exciting all at once. In paintings by Gregory Hardy, the alchemy of art takes place in front of our very eyes. The burgeoning skies that are his forte, present nothing less [...]

- 3 mins read
Self Portrait in Two Takes

When diverse art forms come together, the symbiosis produces an exciting creative experience. Such is the case with a one-of-a-kind hybrid exhibition on portrait. At once a literary and a visual presentation, it is made up of forty self-portraits and eleven corresponding texts. While showcasing artistic talent, this event also has a strong [...]

- 1 min read
Scarti. Art by Accident

It all began in 2003, when Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin embarked on a project they called Ghetto. They travelled around the world taking photographs and interviewing inhabitants of 12 contemporary gated communities, from Tanzanian refugee camps to residents of the Rene Vallejo Psychiatric Hospital in Cuba. Although their book is now out of print, [...]

- 3 mins read
When Body Language Spells Trouble

The trouble with a recent exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery lies in the quality of the works on display. A group show by artists from 19 countries, Body Language would be easy to critique, if critique only meant criticism. It does not. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, critique Ikı’ti:kInoun, means: a detailed analysis and assessment of [...]

- 3 mins read
Mimmo Paladino. Grafie della Vita

Symbolism in art inevitably provokes a verbose reaction from most critics. It is unfortunate, for often, unwittingly, it detracts from the visual enjoyment of the work of art, diverting the viewer into the world of words rather than images. Such is the case with Italian artist Mimmo Paladino, whose itinerant exhibition breezed [...]

- 3 mins read
Peter Doig. No Foreign Lands

Labels stick like glue to some artists, whether denoting their style, or, as in the case of Henri Rousseau, their profession (Le Douanier). Peter Doig is no exception. The term ‘continental drifter’ seems to follow him around, but he does not dispel the description. And it is, indeed, apt. This peripatetic [...]

- 3 mins read
Bianca Hlywa. Youth takes flight

Fresh, exciting, like some refrain from an old classic tune, are the two words that spring to mind when looking at the work of Bianca Hlywa. An undergraduate exchange student at the Bezalei Academy of Fine Art and Design in Jerusalem, she has completed the majority of her bachelor education [...]

- 2 mins read
Paul Machnik and art without borders

When does a labour of love turn into a life’s work? Perhaps when you have been at it for some forty years, as Paul Machnik has, devoting his skill and talent as an artist-printmaker to the promotion of Indigenous art. He is the founder of Montreal’s Studio PM, well known for its [...]

- 4 mins read
Linda Hackett. Alter Ego

Linda Hackett is anything if not determined. The time has come; the genie will no longer stay in the bottle. The creative juices are overflowing, the canvases beg to be displayed. Idiots is the Montreal artist’s first solo exhibition, but seeing the paintings quickly dispels the assumption that this is an emerging [...]

- 2 mins read
Jacynthe Carrier: “Les Eux” Jon Rafman: “Remember Carthage”

A tandem exhibition combining the talents of two Quebec artists at the forefront of contemporary art is a challenge to stage, and an equal challenge to view. With Jacynthe Carrier’s latest video Les Eux playing in one room of the gallery, and Jon Rafman’s Remember Carthage in another, the viewer is being pulled in two [...]

- 3 mins read
Thomas Ostenberg. The Yin and the Yang

For Thomas Ostenberg the transition from the world of finance to the world of art has deeply philosophical underpinnings, and is best described in his own words, taken from the artist’s statement: “My sculpture is somewhat autobiographical. I left a successful financial career to pursue the creation of art when [...]

- 3 mins read
Romany Eveleigh. Pages

Romany Eveleigh’s works on paper are neither painting nor drawing, and in this exhibition, at first glance, they resemble writing. Marked by a visual expression of great delicacy and sophistication, the series on display at Galerie Roger Bellemare recalls ancient scrolls, columns of ‘text’ in complex compositions appearing as sparse [...]

- 2 mins read
Alina Szapocznikow

The body is the raw material from which Alina Szapocznikow wrenches her sculptures. She is not the only artist who made the body and its suffering the subject matter of an entire oeuvre. Frida Kahlo painted herself, almost exclusively, and her struggle with crippling pain that imbues all her works, was [...]

- 4 mins read
Jean-Pierre Ruel. On the Shoulders of Giants

This is a painter’s painter. You can almost smell the paint, sense its texture, hear the swish of the paintbrush while all the time the eye falls in love with the rich palette. Jean-Pierre Ruel is also a painters’ painter for proudly resting on the shoulders of great artists that preceded him, [...]

- 3 mins read
David Hockney - A bigger picture

It should be of no surprise, that having returned to his homeland, David Hockney should follow in the great tradition of English painting, its mastery of the landscape (think Constable et al). Having forsaken sunlit California, and with it his fascination with swimming pools, Hockney, at 74, is back in [...]

- 5 mins read
Contemporary Native Art Manifestation - A stake in the ground

The sculpture is striking. A life-size, kneeling, suppliant figure in a black hooded sweatshirt, jet black hair spilling out, obscuring the face and body, spreading like a vast cloak around it. White hands, with palms turned upward further impress the notion of supplication and reverence. Yet the lettering on the back of [...]

- 5 mins read
André Monet - Perfect Storm

André Monet puts it all down to luck; his gallery’s director, down to talent and fortuitous timing. In other words, an artistic perfect storm. While the dust settles after the international buzz over Prince William’s wedding with Kate Middleton, the Montreal artist and his gallery are still flying high. Commissioned [...]

- 5 mins read
Gabor Szilasi, Doreen Szilasi, Andrea Szilasi, Michael Merrill - Exhibition "Family Ties"

It was difficult to get past the intimacy and into the art in this group show, where every artist was unique and known in their own right. From the patriarch, Gabor Szilasi, and his seminal, black-and-white photographs, to Michael Merrill’s fish-eye paintings on sculpted heads… through Doreen Lindsay’s prints and [...]

- 4 mins read