Sunday, May 02, 2004

The Review Round-Up


It is Sunday. It is raining. I am waiting for people to come to the kids vernie and/or the pets vernie. So what better way to while away the time than by pointing you in some very specific ways towards all the various reviews of Art here in town. This week, I am doing them in a very specific order.

First off, The Globe and Mail not only had a special section designed to separate art galleries from their money, but in the regular part of the paper, RM Vaughan quotes yours truly! Woo-Hoo! (or should that be "tee-hee?") Due to potential conflicts of interest, I will refrain from saying anything about the particular article, other than the Globe & Mail is a wonderful paper, RM Vaughan is the bestest writer in the entire known universe, and if you've had difficulty in finding a copy of yesterday's paper it is probably because I have bought up every last copy in existence in order to save for my archives and give away to friends and family.

Now on to our regularly scheduled program. In the special Visual Arts section (which is just chock full o' ads, good call by the advertising department). There's a whole mess o' stuff about Toronto art, New York art, and then on the 6th page (of an 8 page section) is this article by Bryne McLaughlin about art in Montréal. 1,321 words where he basically synopsizes the recent Canadian Art Magazine issue about Art in Montreal. In that issue they talked about Caroline Andrieux as one of the "new rising art stars" in Montreal. The first two paragraphs of this article are about the current exhibition at her gallery. In passing Mr. McLaughlin mentions Nicolas Baier, Karilee Fuglem, Emmanuelle Leonard and Pascal Grandmaison, all of whom were highlighted in said issue (ok, I'm not certain about Ms. Leonard, but you get the idea). He then goes on to talk about Pierre-Francois Ouellette, and Galerie Clark. My main complaint is that he gives lip service to the vast majority of art and galleries in town. While stating that there are twenty artist run centers here, he neglects to mention that Quartier Ephemere is one of them. He does not mention any of the fourteen Maisons de la Culture at all, nor the twenty-two other places that exhibit art supported by the city. Beyond PFO, he slights all the other commercial galleries by writing "But it's been tough on commercial galleries, which have struggled to find the support of a buying public for contemporary art." If that is the case why are they popping up like zits on a 14-year old, and moving into bigger spaces like nobody's business? But enough slagging of the Globe & Mail, I already said it was a wonderful newspaper.

Staying in the same language, in yesterday's Gazette, Henry Lehman writes 958 words about Elaine Despins's exhibition at the Maison de la culture Frontenac. However, instead of using the verb "to write" I should perhaps use the verb "to worship." He goes on record as saying it might be the best solo exhibition in town, although he is ambiguous as to his time frame.If we're talking right now, then he might want to consider Henri Venne, Seripop, Johannes Zits, Ulysse Comtois, Brian Jungen, Luc Bergeron, Laurie Campbell, Daniel Corbeil, Sylvain Bouthillette, Jacques Bilodea, and Sarah Stevenson to name just a few. If it is the entire year, then, hmmm. I guess we'll have to wait until next year's Best of Montréal contest.

Over at the Mirror, Matthew Woodley writes 212 words about the Bill Burns exhibit at the Saidye, and then if you scroll down another 186 about the Electric Art Derby at Casa del Popolo, and then way down, he gives a little shout out to the Sandra Goldies's new gallery opening.

Now switching languages, La Presse has three articles online. Jerome Delgado, writes a 703 word preview of the Jean Cocteau summer show spectacular coming to the Musse des beaux arts. Apparently in Paris in drew 300,000 folk in the doors to see it. As Paris is something like two to three times larger than Montreal, is anybody at the MBAM gonna be satisfied with less than 800 visitors a day (100,000 total, divided by the length of the exhibition - 115 days, and rounded down slightly)? Heck! The Expos in their continuing suckiness will get 5,000 people per day that they play here. As Mr. Delgado was not able to see but one piece and the majority of the article is either Dominique Païni raving about the show, or Mr. Delgado giving a crash course on Jean Cocteau, I will refrain from saying anything bad, after all everybody is entitled to their opinion, right?

Mr. Delgado's second article 393 words about the Clemence DesRochers exhibit at Les Moderenes (one of the gallery's that has moved recently, I would assume to bigger and better digs, but I am not entirely certain, 'cuz I haven't hit Crescent street recently, but with the Super Summer Spectacular coming to the MBAM I will be positive to get their soon. He does hit upon a couple of the pieces exhibited, but ends up ultimately straddling the fence, lines like "au pire, qu'esquisser un sourire. Au mieux, ils achetent, contents d'avoir une histoire a se raconter." (Bloke translation: At worst you'll get a smile, at best you'll buy and have a story to tell.) Personally, I wanna know if now that Les Femmeuses is over, if les Moderenes is still gonna donate the cash from the 35 prints left over from that show that Ms. DesRochers made to the women's shelter?

And then in Mr. Delgado's third article he kills two birds with 753 words, by combining reviews of the Brian Jungen show at Quartier Ephemere and the Bill Burns show at the Saidye. Other than piling on the bandwagon for both artists Mr. Delgado doesn't add anything new to the discussion, which is unfortunate as he has had able time to read everybody else's reviews and comments.

Over at Le Devoir, Jean-Claude Rochefort pays for his trip to NYC by writing about the Whitney Biennal, unfortunately Le Devoir attempts to recoup what they paid Mr. Rochefort by charging $3.95 to read the article. And then it is similar with Michel Hellman's article about the Gwenaël Bélanger exhibit at Galerie Graff, except that he only needed bus fare to get there.

Then at Radio-Canada, I am extremely disappointed with Claude Couillard this week. Nothing new of significance, he picks up the Mona Lisa warping, and something about a skyscaper museum in NYC, and buried (where I couldn't find it yesterday) is a tiny piece about the Riopelle family feud.

Then saving the best for last! Over at Voir, Nicolas Mavrikakis, writes 386 words about "Le Design contemporain au Québec" now playing at Le Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec, 170 words about the president of Diesel Communications' show at BlowUp Gallery, and 429 words about Patrick Bernatchez at B-312. Mr. Mavrikakis out does himself with the name dropping in the article about Patrick Bernatchez, where I count eight separate references designed to make me feel insecure. David Cronenberg, Sarah Lucas, Bertrand Lavier, Tobias Rehberger, Gabriel Orozco, Maurizio Cattelan, and Matthew Barney, but the one that is most puzzling to me, or in other words the death blow as far as me being worthy of knowing anything about contemporary art is "les voitures de Cesar." However after a quick check at Google (thank heavens otherwise I would feel SO unworthy) it appears that there is some dude who only uses one name (even though his last name is Baldaccini) who likes to crush cars, sorta like John Chamberlain, or Vera Tamari. As for the review his summary makes things completely and utterly clear where he stands with regards to Mr. Bernatchez's work: "Mécanique et débordements est une expo à la symbolique plus complexe et plus opaque que celle mise en place par Bernatchez à la Galerie Clark, à l'automne 2002. C'est bien ainsi." Or for the language challenged, Mécanique et débordements is an exhibiton with a symbolic system that is more complex and more opaque than the installation by Bernatchez at the Clark Gallery, in the autumn of 2002, thus it is good." Or in my translation 'huh?"

Over to the sucking up article. I would wonder what sort of relationship there is between Voir communications and Diesel Marketing, or why would they publish something like this? Even Mr. Mavrikakis seems a little bit embarrassed, as he signs the article only N. Mavrikakis, and there is none of his trademarkd name dropping, maybe vacation snapshots from Cuba aren't his bag. And the other thing that I find interesting is how the review of Mr. Bouchard's work gets four comments from the readers with Mr. Bernatchez only gets one.

Then finally, it looks like objects are definitely not his bag (he even says so in the first paragraph) as he similarly mails in the review of Le Design contemporain au Québec, his namedropping is lackluster at best as all he can muster up is a passing compliment about some religious sculptures in wood that are part of the permanent collection at the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec.

It seems like Isa Tousignant has taken a vacation, for the second week in a row, Hour has no reviews, and all the university papers are taking the summer off, it does seem as if classes have some to an end.

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