reviews

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…)

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…)

Vincent London at Galerie Youn

It was an unusual week in Montreal. I can’t recall a time when there were so many shows that were devoted to more or less sensual depictions of the human form at once. Artothèque dug through its archives to put together a show of lesser and better known artists that spanned the past century. William Bymner, Ernst Neumann and Tom Hodgson were all there in small works. “Nous somme nus” The show was of the academic study variety. Meanwhile, Joyce Yahouda featured the watercolours of Nadine Faraj about nude feminist activism. And Parisian Laundry featured several large nudes by Elizabeth McIntosh and a nude superimposed with industrial design by Sandra Erbacher in the show “Jupe bleue, un blonde, des calculatrices et un nu couché” that tied together most of the thematics that seem to crop up around the nude body – nostalgia, abstraction, humour. In their work, they take on a distinctly retro flavouring. While Erbacher’s work overtly borrows from old magazines and design, McIntosh’s strangely resembling some of Greg Curnoe’s nudes from the early 60s.

But the really interesting show was at Galerie Youn as part of their fourth anniversary celebration. “Cut Out” is the work of Montreal painter Vincent London. It features nearly a dozen oils that straddle the figurative and abstract, flirting with imagery and colour choices that suggest photo spreads in French “Lui” magazines from the 70s and 80s. With the exception of one, rather out of place work, the paintings are all from 2016. The majority of them involve women in bikinis being soaked, swimming with astronauts, jumping up and down, or being filmed with VHS equipment. While almost all of the paintings in the show are fairly small, they do not possess any significant intimacy. Instead, they feel more photographic, both in dimensions and in the sense with which they seem to trail after some past or future moment. This provides them with the air of the slightly sentimental. While his work more than superficially shares in its thematic considerations of the artists above, there is a squalid and satirical quality to them that distances his work from the classy hospital art aesthetics of the others. (more…)