Marx Ruiz-Wilson is a singular figure in the Montreal contemporary art scene. A scientist by trade, Ruiz-Wilson began his generous and expansive career in the art world with the IntoThis podcast series featuring interviews in which he thoughtfully prompts artists to talk about their process and how it folds into their respective communities and disciplines.
Following this, in summer 2017, was TAP-1, an impressive ephemeral exhibition featuring twenty-three artists in the horseshoe-shaped basement of Ruiz-Wilson’s apartment building. TAP is an acronym for “The Adjacent Possible,” a theory in evolutionary biology whose main argument is that “by recombining existent data, materials, variables, etc. the limits of a given system expand and this phenomena [sic] repeats again and again giving access to new possibilities.” These new derived pathways were then carried onward, with numerous featured artists collaborating with Ruiz-Wilson over the years to come (and to the present) with gallery representation (of four emerging artists, currently), continued investment (with the recent addition of seven artists and collaborators), and friendship. As Amelia Wong-Mersereau writes in the exhibition statement for the latest show, The Wind Returns to the Soil (2023) by Phuong Nguyen (represented by Ruiz-Wilson), “The gallery aims to support and grow alongside their artists, as well as their other collaborators.”
TAP Art Space was officially established in 2018 by Ruiz-Wilson and his organizational and life partner Audrey-Anne Morin in a garage space in the McGill Ghetto, one of very few galleries in Montreal then (and now) owned and directed by people of colour. This vital perspective, along with the infusion of scientific theory, was brought into the gallery’s curating, later representation, and overall ethos, and it continues in its new space situated in Montreal’s Saint-Michel district. The first space remained open until October 12, 2019, the closing date for architect and artist Gabriel Peña Tijerina’s exhibition more., a bookend as well to TAP’s time in Montreal (at the time). TAP reopened during the depths of the pandemic in Toronto on September 18, 2020, with the strident GODDAMNED IMPETUS FOR LIVING, a solo show by Marcelino Barsi (represented), the title derived from the motivation for action in art, in all pulsating movement. Six exhibitions later, in August 2022, TAP came back to Montreal to participate in the Plural Art Fair (formerly known as Papier).
When Ruiz-Wilson and Morin returned to Montreal, they decided to establish TAP Art Space as a commercial gallery, balancing commercial endeavours in order to support represented artists and collaborators with preserving the significant space that TAP has forged and continues to maintain for experimentation. This equilibrium was further established with a more permanent locale, found at the Ateliers 3333 building on Crémazie Est, where they’ll be running their programming for the foreseeable future, with their team expanding to include prolific contemporary artist Santiago Tamayo Soler as gallery associate.
The opening exhibition in the current space is Stat. Sig., another abridged technical term, this one referring to statistical significance from hypothetical testing, “achieved when the result observed is unlikely to have been obtained by chance. The appropriate sample size”—featuring a roster that springs forth from the originary TAP-1 and including a rotating cast as well as new artists for the gallery, all selected with care and a sense of camaraderie—“is one of the prerequisites for a valid statistical analysis, in a parallel-figuratively manner, this group exhibition offers the viewer a representative sample of Canadian and Mexican contemporary art practices.”
In this new space, TAP Art Space provided us with a taste of what’s to come on the basis of what has previously transpired and been gestated in the interim. This constellation of contemporary artists—all demonstrating new ways of thinking, creating, organizing—showed sample-sized (in dimensions, not in conceptual depth) works that acted as mirrors of their sprawling practices, and, like a specimen put under the microscope, opened to worlds beyond their linearities: the celestial object, the woven basket, the portrait whose lines yawn across the rippled edges of the page, the medieval, the monstrous, the oneiric, the trace evidence, the stacked, the grid, the layered in and out, the surrounded.
These neighbouring pathways into efflorescent, rich, and beguiling worlds indicate what’s coming up for TAP Art Space—contingencies that work together, long-term collaborations that, with investment and trust, are elaborated further and bigger—and it is with bated breath and excitement that we await what will inevitably, circumstantially, and collaboratively arrive next.
1. TAP-1 exhibition text by Marx Ruiz-Wilson, https://tapartspace.com/tap1-documentation/.
2. Stat. Sig. exhibition text, https://tapartspace.com/exhibitions/stat-sig.
Artists: Raúl Aguilar, Marcelino Barsi, David Bellemare, Mathieu Cardin, Caroline Douville, Beth Frey, Chantal Khoury, Phuong Nguyen, Julien Parant-Marquis, Eve Tagny
TAP Art Space
November 10 to December 18, 2022