Thursday, December 25, 2003

Art for Atheists, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Godless souls, and other non-believers


So whatcha gonna do? Pretty much everything in this town is shut down, closed locked tight, and not open. Who says the church has lost its power in this town? But thankfully, "pretty much" doesn't imply everything. Today there are going to be a whack of cafes that are open, and by 6 pm some of the more progressive bars, tomorrow there will be the derigueur Boxing Day Sales!!

Well, most of the cafes, and all of the progressive bars (or is it the other way around?) will and do have art up on the walls. In this neighborhood, there is Caf� Pi, conveniently located right across the street from my apartment ? or for those of you who have never been to my apartment, about a block and a half up the street from the gallery.

Now, the one thing about Art in cafes and bars, is that it sorta hit or miss. Right now the stuff up at Caf� Pi is most definitely a miss. Now, as an aside, some of you are going to ask why should I pick on a "new" artist? Why slag someone who I've never met? Why risk potentially alienating someone who in actual fact might be a really nice, sweet and kind person? Two reasons, a) I'm a nasty despicable individual, b) Just because I say something sucks, does not mean that you're going to think that it sucks, c) Book reviews, movie reviews, game reviews, music reviews, restaurant reviews and even baseball scouting reports regularly point out faults, errors and sub-par performances. Art reviews, on the other hand tend to speak glowingly about the artist and the Art in question, the thought being, that if it is bad art then it is a better idea to not speak about it. How are you going to establish any credibility at all if you're a reviewer if you don't talk about the bad with the good?

Some of the stuff on the walls at Cafe Pi

Bernard Lamarche has told me that there is way too much good art in this town to waste the limited space he is allotted in Le Devoir to talk about the bad stuff. As a reader, this strikes me as patently patronizing ? I am quite capable of making my own mind up as to whether some Art is good or bad with or without M. Lamarche's help. If he only writes "kind" words then how am I to know whether he is writing about it is because he honestly believes that the Art is going to change the world, or if there are other reasons behind his prose? I prefer to think of reviewers as folk who should be making me aware of stuff that I would not otherwise be aware of. Writing about the current show at Rene Blouin's gallery (of the 13 exhibitions that he has held in his gallery since May 1, 2002, 11 have been reviewed in Le Devoir) or Oboro (6 for 9, you get the picture) is not going to make me more aware that it is happening. I already know about those galleries and regularly see exhibitions there. However writing "kind" or "unkind" words about stuff on the walls at le Va-et-Vient, or Pharmacie Esperanza would get my butt out of my chair to see the stuff that they have on their walls.

Given that today, the only place you're going to see art is in places like le Va-et-Vient or Esperanza, then I think it is worthwhile writing about them. Yes, it is unfortunate that Caf� Pi doesn't have stuff that I like up, but what are you gonna do, even Virginia knows now that there ain't no sanity clause.

Now, since Maclean asked for some pictures, we got some pictures:
Some more of the stuff on the walls at Cafe Pi Yet some more of the stuff on the walls at Cafe Pi

A couple of things that struck me, in no particular order. The artists' names was nowhere to be seen. Although the exhibit was separated out in five distinct sections, I couldn't figure them out. The lighting was really bad, and although Caf� Pi would never be confused with a white cube, as I wasn't a chess player, it had the same sang-froid atmosphere. If any of you know, or figure out what the password is, please let me know.

Now this unnamed artist might, with a little bit of practice, develop into an acceptable medical illustrator, but right now they need a whole lot more training. The two paintings that attempt to seem like they might be approximations (not close) of some sort or nerves, or perhaps bad sci-fi, need a lot more work on the colors, while the yellow against the purple is an interesting juxtaposition the green and brown don't add anything, and depending on your point of view actually could take away just about anything interesting (but it might also be due to the lighting. While Richard Diebenkorn's paintings are just as raw, this unnamed artist isn't using the process of painting in any shape or form to express anything. And while the lines and dots might have had a meaning when they were contemplating the canvas, something got lost in the translation.

And the last picture of the stuff on the walls at Cafe Pi

Now switching over to the collages, oooh, lemme guess! A rhinoceros, an ashtray with a burning cigarette, a desert, the pyramids, etc. It means that according to the ancient Egyptians rhinoceroses were going to get lung cancer because they were lazy sods (notice the character slouched in the chair lower left). The train engineer is the reincarnation of Casey Jones, and the military rubber duck is either because Bert and Ernie have escalated their feud, or is the trouble ahead that just crossed my mind. Whatever, unless you're going to make really big and intricate collages that reference a certain sub-genre of mythology that 99% of the folk out there don't know, don't.

Your turn ? Caf� Pi is at 4127 St. Laurent

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