art mur

The affective tourists: Holly King and Rehab Nazzal


Half of the Holly King show at Art Mûr is a retrospective. She’s been doing this for 30 years. I’ll confine myself to addressing the new work, though it’s worth noting that while her work has become warmer in hue, it’s also become less romantic in tenor. Made up principally of photos and a few viewing contraptions, A la frontière du mystère features studio created landscapes blown up as large photo prints. Sometimes the backdrops to these images are painted with loose brush work in swirling Sunday painter style as mildly whimsical skies. Sometimes they are enlarged, glossy tourist getaway brochure type images filled with glinting pebbles. In both cases, she places what amounts to still lifes of largely dead plants and the occasional gewgaw in the foreground and in focus. Sometimes these are a bit glittery to play against the background. The few smaller, strictly still lifes against black play this angle more, covering the dark grounding with what looks like a shower of dandruff, or maybe it’s glitter.


Peinture fraîche et nouvelle construction at Art Mur


It’s summer, which means that it is once again time for Art Mur‘s annual exhibition “Peinture fraîche et nouvelle construction” showcasing the work of MFA students from across the country. This year’s edition was far better organized than last year’s disappointing foray. For 2015, works were often paired up in ways that were, if not necessarily evocative, at least made a great deal of formal sense. Either by accident or design, this also served to highlight the degree to which one can detect a set of consistent styles coming out of the country’s MFA programs. This is, of course, in part down to the curators’ tastes as well as those of grad school gatekeepers, but it still seems broadly accurate. What follows is a highly superficial glance at a few of the more memorable works. (more…)

Simon Bilodeau at Art Mur.


Ce que l’on ne voit pas qui nous touche, pile#1, 2014

L’arc-en-ciel n’existe pas

Montreal artist Simon Bilodeau‘s latest show at Art Mur is something of a culmination of many of the tendencies that have been present in his work for more than half a decade. Unlike other artists who concentrate on ‘materiality’, Bilodeau’s is a resolutely cold sensibility devoid of any of the touchy-feely aesthetic touches that plague so much current abstract work. He constructs mausoleums, not party spaces. Bilodeau has said, Par ce choix plastique de n’utiliser aucune couleur, je consens à ne susciter aucune émotion par les couleurs utilisées, puisque celles-ci, je crois, tendraient par comparaison à prendre pour réalité ce qui est présenté. (By the choice not to use any plastic colour, I agree not to provoke any emotion by the colours used, since they, I think, tend to take compared to what is actually presented.) Which is to say, the painting (or sculpture) negates the emoticon function for the sake of the image. (more…)

Letter from Montreal (July).

Dear X.,

Just returned from Montreal. The weather was less terrible than usual in July. The streets more clotted than ever by tourists. Yet, it still smells less horrible than most Canadian cities. The food is still good. My French is still bad. The flavour of beers more unique and more disappointing. Many galleries were closed to avoid the congestion. The John Heward show at Galerie Roger Bellemare was much like every other Heward show Iꞌve seen. They were mostly called masks or self portraits. Usually weighed down by metal clips. This was an unconvincing gesture but hinted that they may have had another life. Rags and lilting flags. The occasional reference in a title to spice things up. They are the remains of a shipwreck that never had a ship. But they were nicely laid out in the gallery. Across the hall were a few striking pieces by Angele Verret. Enjoyably irritating, mildly hallucinatory. (more…)