montreal

The affective tourists: Holly King and Rehab Nazzal

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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.
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Beth Stuart’s ‘The Golem. Her Lover’ at Battat Contemporary

It smells. That’s one of the most notable things. For years, Battat Contemporary has, at least in my stilted mind, become synonymous with the anti-septic. They posses a weird penchant for pushing the cliche of the white cube to the extreme point that they rarely seemed to show work that wasn’t black, white or grey. This has always been a jokey complement to the complete indifference of its staff to those who look at the work or ask questions about it. But the Beth Stuart show smells. Like popcorn at that. And this may in part be why her ‘The Golem. Her Lover’ registers as so theatrical. (more…)

Notes: Cheryl Pagurek and the CBC

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I remember listening to George Steiner hitting a rough patch in one of his flowing sentences on Writers & Company twenty odd years past. After some gentle prodding from the hostess, the crotchety novelist/critic explained how alarmed he was by the extent to which the Canadian cultural and intellectual world had degenerated since the 1980s. It had fallen to the point that it had become a hideous parody, less of itself, than of milquetoast Americans. Much the same could be said of the CBC, which continues to descend to levels of crapulence that should appall the public. Continuing our tour of discursive discards, here is a look at a typically lousy example from our state run media. This might be excused for being a very middle-brow entertainment bit, but this does not distance it from its – and the many articles it weaves in as links – quite overt propagandistic function.

Ottawan Cheryl Pagurek is a state subsidized artist with many connections to the Ideological State Apparatus. Not surprisingly, her new show at the Patrick Mikhail Gallery was selected as a ‘must see’ by Canadian Art.

The gallery advertises the work as follows: (more…)

Edmund Alleyn at MACM and Simon Blais

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Edmund Alleyn has always been a bit of a conundrum. Investigating a variety of styles that spanned the non-representational to the sociological and realistic, his work retained an extraordinary continuity of mood and imagination. Like some members of Figuration Narrative (who he showed with), there is an interest in Pop Art but it seems to be a distant one. Alleyn left Canada early and spent several years in France before returning to Quebec. What he brought back with him was a degree of alienation – one that manages at turns to be detached and intimate – that provided him with a curious perspective. Much like his mentor and colleague Jean Paul Lemieux, he unites an eccentric integration of experimentation with a seemingly conservative and sentimental style and content. (more…)