This fall, galleries propose exciting and thought-provoking directions through disparate techniques and subjects.

Art Mûr is worth the trip toward the north end of Montreal for art lovers. This fall, the gallery showcases three artists – Henri Venne, Colleen Wolstenholme, and Judith Berry – who have radically different takes on the landscape motif, from Venne’s digital photographs and Berry’s composition of shapes to Wolstenholme’s installation. Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain is another go-to destination for collectors. Horizon (fragments) highlights artist Luc Courchesne’s meditations on earth and sky. His elegant explorations of horizontal space are shown in videos and photographs. In December, the gallery presents the work of Ed Pien, who uses haphazard phrases as a point of departure in Talking Images. In Play, performed for the video camera, images of balloons and the body are Pien’s focus. At Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, in the Belgo Building, Cindy Phenix’s brightly coloured scenes are landscapes of a sort: complex narratives probing private and public spheres.

Jessica Eaton, Cfaal 1104 (2018)
Pigment print, 152,5 x 122 cm
Courtesy of the artist

Galleries on Boulevard Saint-Laurent offer a range of subjects and disciplines. In the intriguing The light that never was, her solo show at Galerie D’Este, Fiona Annis investigates time and light. Her hand-processed photographic plates often yield unanticipated results. In collaboration with The Society of Affective Archives, Annis is currently working on projects that include a large-scale public art commission for Mount Royal Park in Montreal. While on Saint-Laurent, take in Refus global – 70e anniversaire (1948-2018) at Galerie Simon Blais. Another exhibition presents one of Canada’s most influential abstract artists, Jean McEwen. Inspired by the Montreal Automatiste painters, McEwen poured and layered his translucent opaque colours. Also on The Main is Galerie Yuon, featuring illusionist Sébastien Gaudette, who is inspired by the most banal of objects – a letter-size sheet of white paper – in Vision Double. As Gaudette shifts between disciplines, bent and torn sheets of paper are re-created in metal and delicate drawings. Riffing on the pure simplicity of the ubiquitous sheet of paper, he fashions complex compositions.

At the other end of town but very much worth the trip, the show at Galerie MX brings international viewpoints to the visual arts season. The Canadian premiere offers Alexander Kaletski (Russia), who paints his characters on old cardboard boxes; Neil Powell (USA), who reuses old books; beautiful Baroque creations by Lúcio Carvalho (Brazil); and works by three artists from France: Cécile Plaisance’s photographic almost-porno Barbies, Henri Iglesis’s air-filled metal sculptures, and Laurence Jenkell’s Plexiglas high-gloss candy pieces.

Large-format analogue photographs fill the large spaces in the second solo exhibition of Jessica Eaton’s work at Antoine Ertaskiran in Griffintown. Eaton queries illusion and colour in her ambiguous abstract images that recall Victor Vasarely in their op art shapes and illusions of spatial depth, challenging the viewer’s sense of perception.

This autumn, Montreal galleries offer the unexpected: fresh perspectives that challenge the viewer. Different visual narratives offer dialogues explored in ground-breaking ways.

Moving west, Galerie de Bellefeuille displays the iconic work of Guido Molinari, whose hard-edged vertical bands of colour were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, NY, during the 1960s. The gallery’s December show features Michael Harrington’s ambiguous compositions. His colourful narratives, touching on mortality, masculinity, status, and esteem, are inspired by contemporary culture as well as folklore and memory. Around the corner from de Bellefeuille, Alex Cameron’s solo show at Galerie Han Art features thickly painted impasto scenes with a touchable texture. And situated a mere few blocks away is the large loft-gallery space, Parisian Laundry, aptly named for its former function. The gallery features two cutting-edge artists. Marie-Michelle Deschamps’s installations allude to language, using form and structure as a vehicle to question private communication. Her elegantly abstract minimalist pieces comment on today’s excess of information. Alexandre David’s works are a hybrid between architecture and sculpture. His installations encourage exploration, inviting participants to consider the possibilities of architecture within architecture, thus deconstructing the agency of space itself, and chal­lenging the conventional narrative.

This autumn, Montreal galleries offer the unexpected: fresh perspectives that challenge the viewer. Different visual narratives offer dialogues explored in ground-breaking ways. Some shows laud the accomplished oeuvre of iconic masters. From coding to classics, they are vital exhibitions not to be missed.